Skip to main content

Full text of "The complete poetical works of William Wordsworth"

See other formats


Grasmere from Red Bank 











c ' c 'c c 

■<^ ' <: c«^ 


fV NiGHT-PlECE Page 3 

We are Seven 5 

Anecdote for Fathers 12 

The Thorn 16 

Goody Blake and Harry Gill. A True Story . 28 

Her Eyes are Wild 34 

Simon Lee, the Old Huntsman; with an incident 

IN which he was concerned .... 39 

Lines written in Early Spring .... 44 

To MY Sister 46 


Expostulation and Reply 51 

The Tables Turned. An Evening Scene on the 

SAME Subject 53 

The Coxmplaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman . 55 

The Last of the Flock 59 

The Idiot Boy 64 

f vl 


Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Ab- 

DURING A Tour, July 13, 1798 

The Old Cumberland Beggar 

Animal Tranquillity and Decay 

Peter Bell. A Tale 
'^ The Simplon Pass . 
X Influence of Natural Objects in calling forth 


hood and Early Youth 

There was a Boy 


"Strange fits of passion have I known" . 
"She dwelt among the untrodden ways" . 
^ "i travelled among unknown men " . 

"Three years she grew in sun and shower" . 


A Poet's Epitaph 

-/, Address to the Scholars of the Village School 


[ vi ] 
















Matthew 179 

The two April Mornings 182^ 

The Fountain. A Conversation .... 185 \ 

To a Sexton 189 

The Danish Boy. A Fragment .... 191 

Lucy Gray; or, Solitude 194 

Ruth 198 

Written in Germany, on one of the coldest days 

of the century 209 

"Bleak season was it, turbulent and wild" . 212 ^ 

"On Nature's invitation do I come" . . . 213 >i^ 

The Recluse 215 ^ 

The Brothers 249 

Michael. A Pastoral Poem 268 

The Idle Shepherd-boys ; or, Dungeon-Ghyll 

Force. A Pastoral 288 

The Pet-lamb. A Pastoral 294 

Poems on the Naming of Places — 

"It was an April morning: fresh and clear" 299 

To Joanna 301 . 

[ vli 1 


"There is an Eminence, — of these our hills" 305 


To M. H 309 

The Waterfall and the Eglantine . . .311 

The Oak and the Broom. A Pastoral . . 314 

Hart-leap Well 320 

*"Tis SAID, that some have died for love" . 330 

The Childless Father 333 

Song for the Wandering Jew .... 335 

Rural Architecture 337 

Ellen Irwin; or. The Braes of Kirtle . . 339 

Andrew Jones 342 

The Two Thieves; or, The Last Stage of Avarice 344 

A Character 347 

Inscriptions — 
For the Spot where the Hermitage stood on 

St. Herbert's Island, Derwentwater . 349 
Written with a Pencil upon a Stone in the 

Wall of the House (an Outhouse), on the 

)^ Island at Grasmere 350 

[ viii 1 


Written with a Slate Pencil upon a Stone, 

AT Rydal 351 






1798 1815 

Composed on the road between Nether Stowey and Alfox- 
den, extempore. I distinctly recollect the very moment when 
I was struck, as described, — "He looks up — the clouds 
are split," etc. 

The sky is overcast 

With a continuous cloud of texture close, 
Heavy and wan, all whitened by the Moon, 
Which through that veil is indistinctly seen, 
A dull, contracted circle, yielding light 
So feebly spread, that not a shadow falls. 
Chequering the ground — from rock, plant, tree, 

or tower. 
At length a pleasant instantaneous gleam 
Startles the pensive traveller while he treads 
His lonesome path, with unobserving eye 
Bent earthwards; he looks up — the clouds are 

Asunder, — and above his head he sees 
The clear Moon, and the glory of the heavens. 


There, in a black-blue vault she sails along, 

Pollowed by multitudes of stars, that, small 

And sharp, and bright, along the dark abyss 

Drive as she drives : how fast they wheel away, 

Yet vanish not ! — the wind is in the tree. 

But they are silent; — still they roll along 

Immeasurably distant; and the vault. 

Built round by those white clouds, enormous clouds. 

Still deepens its unfathomable depth. 

At length the Vision closes; and the mind. 

Not undisturbed by the delight it feels. 

Which slowly settles into peaceful calm, 

Is left to muse upon the solemn scene. 



1798 1798 

Written at Alfoxden in the spring of 1798, under circum- 
stances somewhat remarkable. The little girl who is the 
heroine I met within the area of Goodrich Castle in the year 
1793. Having left the Isle of Wight and crossed Salisbury 
Plain/ as mentioned in the preface to "Guilt and Sorrow,"/ 
/l proceeded by Bristol up the Wye, and so on to North Wales, 
to the Vale of Clwydd, where I spent my summer under the 
roof of the father of my friend, Robert Jones. In reference 
to this Poem I will here mention one of the most remarkable 
facts in my own poetic history and that of Mr. Coleridge. 
In the spring of the year 1798, he, my Sister, and myself, 
started from Alfoxden, pretty late in the afternoon, with a 
view to visit Lenton and the valley of Stones near it; and as 
our united funds were very small, we agreed to defray the 
expense of the tour by writing a poem, to be sent to the New 
Monthly Magazine set up by Phillips the bookseller, and 
€dited by Dr. Aikin. Accordingly we set off and proceeded 
along the Quantock Hills towards Watchet, and in the course 
of this walk was planned the poem of the "Ancient Mariner," / 
founded on a dream, as Mr. Coleridge said, of his friend, 
Mr. Cruikshank. Much the greatest part of the story was 
Mr. Coleridge's invention; but certain parts I myself sug- 
gested : j— for example, some crime was to be committed 
which should bring upon the old Navigator, as Coleridge 
afterwards delighted to call him, the spectral persecution, 
as a consequence of that crime, and his own wanderings. I 
had been reading in Shelvock's Voyages a day or two before 
that while doubling Cape Horn they frequently saw Alba- 


trosses in that latitude, the largest sort of sea-fowl, some ex- 
tending their wings twelve or fifteen feet. "Suppose," said 
I, "you represent him as having killed one of these birds on 
entering the South Sea, and that the tutelary Spirits of those 
regions take upon them to avenge the crime." The incident 
was thought fit for the purpose and adopted accordingly. I 
also suggested the navigation of the ship by the dead men, 
but do not recollect that I had anything more to do with the 
scheme of the poem. The Gloss with which it was subse- 
quently accompanied was not thought of by either of us at 
the time; at least, not a hint of it was given to me, and I have 
no doubt it was a gratuitous after-thought. We began the 
composition together on that, to me, memorable evening- 
I furnished two or three lines at the beginning of the poem, 
in particular : — 

"And listened like a three years' child; 
The Mariner had his will." 

These trifling contributions, all but one (which Mr. C. has 
with unnecessary scrupulosity recorded) slipt out of his mind 
as they well might. /As we endeavoured to proceed conjointly 
(I speak of the same evening) our respective manners proved 
so widely different that it would have been quite presumptu- 
ous in me to do anj'thing but separate from an undertak- 
ing upon which I could only have been a clog. We returned 
after a few days from a delightful tour, of which I have many 
pleasant, and some of them droll-enough, recollections. We 
returned by Dulverton to Alfoxden. The "Ancient Mariner'* 
grew and grew till it became too important for our first object, 
which was limited to our expectation of five pounds, and we 
began to talk of a Volume, which was to consist, as Mr. Cole- 
ridge has told the world, of poems chiefly on supernatural 
subjects taken from common life, but looked at, as much as 
might be, through an imaginative medium. Accordingly I 



wrote "The Idiot Boy," "Her eyes are wild," etc., "We are 
seven," "The Thorn," and some others. To return to "We 
are seven," the piece that called forth this note, I composed 
it while walking in the grove at Alfoxden. My friends will not 
deem it too trifling to relate that while walking to and fro I 
composed the last stanza first, having begun with the last line. 
When it was all but finished, I came in and recited it to Mr. 
Coleridge and my Sister, and said, "A prefatory stanza must 
be added, and I should sit down to our little tea-meal with 
greater pleasure if my task were finished." I mentioned in 
substance what I wished to be expressed, and Coleridge im- 
mediately threw off the stanza thus : — 

"A little child, dear brother Jem," — 

I objected to the rhyme, "dear brother Jem," as being ludi- 
crous, but we all enjoyed the joke of hitching in our friend, 

James T 's name, who was familiarly called Jem. He was 

the brother of the dramatist, and this reminds me of an an- 
ecdote which it may be worth while here to notice. The said 
Jem got a sight of the Lyrical Ballads as it was going through 
the press at Bristol, during which time I was residing in that 
city. One evening he came to me with a grave face, and said, 
"Wordsworth, I have seen the volume that Coleridge and you 
are about to publish. There is one poem in it which I earnestly 
entreat you will cancel, for, if published, it will make you 
everlastingly ridiculous." I answered that I felt much obliged 
by the interest he took in my good name as a writer, and 
begged to know what was the unfortunate piece he alluded to. 
He said, "It is called 'We are seven.'" Nay! said I, that shall 
take its chance, however, and he left me in despair. /I have 
only to add that in the spring of 1841 I revisited Goodrich 
Castle, not having seen that part of the Wye since I met the 
little Girl there in 1793. It would have given me greater pleas- 
ure to have found in the neighbouring hamlet traces of one 

f 7 1 


who had interested me so much; but that was impossible, as 
unfortunately I did not even know her name. The ruin, from 
its position and features, is a most impressive object. I could 
not but deeply regret that its solemnity was impaired by a 
fantastic new Castle set up on a projection of the ridge, as if 
to show how far modern art can go in surpassing all that could 
be done by antiquity and nature with their united graces, 
remembrances, and associations. 

A SIMPLE Child, 

That lightly draws its breath. 
And feels its life in every limb. 
What should it know of death? 

I met a little cottage Girl : 
She was eight years old, she said; 
Her hair was thick with many a curl 
That clustered round her head. 

She had a rustic, woodland air. 
And she was wildly clad: 
Her eyes were fair, and very fair; 
— Her beauty made me glad. 

'Sisters and brothers, little Maid, 
How many may you be?'* 
'How many? Seven in all," she said. 
And wondering looked at me. 


"And where are they ? I pray you tell." 
She answered, "Seven are we; 
And two of us at Conway dwell, 
And two are gone to sea. 

"Two of us in the church-yard lie, 
My sister and my brother; 
And, in the church-yard cottage, I 
Dwell near them with my mother." 

"You say that two at Conway dwell. 
And two are gone to sea, 
Yet ye are seven ! — I pray you tellj 
Sweet Maid, how this may be." 

Then did the little Maid reply, 
"Seven boys and girls are we; 
Two of us in the church-yard lie. 
Beneath the church-yard tree." 

"You run about, my little Maid, 
Your limbs they are alive; 
If two are in the church-yard laid. 
Then ye are only five." 

"Their graves are green, they may be seen. 
The little Maid replied, 



"Twelve steps or more from my mother's 
And they are side by side. 

"My stockings there I often knit, 
My kerchief there I hem; 
And there upon the ground I sit. 
And sing a song to them. 

"And often after sunset. Sir, 
When it is Hght and fair, 
I take my Httle porringer. 
And eat my supper there. 

"The first that died was sister Jane; 
In bed she moaning lay. 
Till God released her of her pain; 
And then she went away. 

"So in the church-yard she was laid; 
And, when the grass was dry, 
Together round her grave we played. 
My brother John and I. 

"And when the ground was white with snow. 
And I could run and slide, 
I 10] 


My brother John was forced to go. 
And he lies by her side.'* 

"How many are you, then," said I, 
"If they two are in heaven?" 

Quick was the little Maid's reply, 
"O Master! we are seven." 

"But they are dead; those two are dead! 
Their spirits are in heaven!" 
'T was throwing words away; for still 
The little Maid would have her will. 
And said, "Nay, we are seven!" 

[11 ] 


1798 1798 

"Retine vim istam, falsa enim dicam, si coges." — Eusebius. 

This was suggested in front of Alfoxden. The Boy was a 
son of my friend, Basil Montagu, who had been two or three 
years under our care. The name of Kilve is from a village 
on the Bristol Channel, about a mile from Alfoxden; and the 
name of Liswyn Farm was taken from a beautiful spot on 
the Wye. When Mr. Coleridge, my Sister, and I had been 
visiting the famous John Thelwall, who had taken refuge 
from politics, after a trial for high treason, with a view to 
bring up his family by the profits of agriculture, which proved 
as unfortunate a speculation as that he had fled from, Cole- 
ridge and he had both been public lecturers; Coleridge min- 
gling, with his politics, Theology, from which the other elocu- 
tionist abstained, unless it were for the sake of a sneer. This 
quondam community of public employment induced Thel- 
wall to visit Coleridge at Nether Stowey, where he fell in my 
way. He really was a man of extraordinary talent, an affec- 
tionate husband, and a good father. Though brought up in 
the City, he was truly sensible of the beauty of natural ob- 
jects. I remember once, when Coleridge, he, and I were seated 
together upon the turf on the brink of a stream in the most 
beautiful part of the most beautiful glen of Alfoxden, Cole- 
ridge exclaimed, "This is a place to reconcile one to all the 
jarrings and conflicts of the wide world." — "Nay," said 
Thelwall, "to make one forget them altogether." The visit 
of this man to Coleridge was, as I believe Coleridge has re- 
lated, the occasion of a spy being sent by Government to watch 

[ 12 1 


our proceedings, which were, I can say with truth, such as the 
world at large would have thought ludicrously harmless. 

I HAVE a boy of five years old; 
His face is fair and fresh to see; 
His limbs are cast in beauty's mould. 
And dearly he loves me. 

One morn we strolled on our dry walk. 
Our quiet home all full in view. 
And held such intermitted talk 
As we are wont to do. 

My thoughts on former pleasures ran; 
I thought of Kilve's delightful shore, 
Our pleasant home when spring began, 
A long, long year before. 

A day it was when I could bear 
Some fond regrets to entertain; 
With so much happiness to spare, 
I could not feel a pain. 

The green earth echoed to the feet 
Of lambs that bounded through the glade. 
From shade to sunshine, and as fleet 
From sunshine back to shade. 
I 13 ] 


Birds warbled round me — and each trace 
Of inward sadness had its charm; 
Kilve, thought I, was a favoured place. 
And so is Liswyn farm. 

My boy beside me tripped, so slim 
And graceful in his rustic dress! 
And, as we talked, I questioned him. 
In very idleness. 

"Now tell me, had you rather be,'* 
I said, and took him by the arm, 

"On Kilve's smooth shore, by the green sea. 
Or here at Liswyn farm?" 

In careless mood he looked at me. 
While still I held him by the arm. 
And said, "At Kilve I'd rather be 
Than here at Liswyn farm." 

"Now, little Edward, say why so: 

My little Edward, tell me why." — 
"I cannot tell, I do not know." — 
"Why, this is strange," said I; 
[ 14 1 


'For, here arc woods, hills smooth and warm: 
There surely must some reason be 
Why you would change sweet Liswyn farm 
For Kilve by the green sea." 

At this, my boy hung down his head. 
He blushed with shame, nor 'made reply; 
And three times to the child I said, 
'Why, Edward, tell me why?" 

His head he raised — there was in sight. 
It caught his eye, he saw it plain — 
Upon the house-top, glittering bright, 
A broad and gilded vane. 

Then did the boy his tongue unlock, 
And eased his mind with this reply: 
At Kilve there was no weather-cock; 
And that's the reason why." 

O dearest, dearest boy! my heart 
For better lore would seldom yearn. 
Could I but teach the hundredth part 
Of what from thee I learn. 



1798 1798 

Written at Alfoxden. Arose out of my observing, on the 
ridge of Quantock Hill, on a stormy day, a thorn which I had 
often past, in calm and bright weather, without noticing it. 
I said to myself, "Cannot I by some invention do as much 
to make this Thorn permanently an impressive object as the 
storm has made it to my eyes at this moment?" I began the 
poem accordingly, and composed it with great rapidity. Sir 
George Beaumont painted a picture from it which Wilkie 
thought his best. He gave it me; though when he saw it sev- 
eral times at Rydal Mount afterwards, he said, "I could make 
a better, and would like to paint the same subject over again." 
The sky in this picture is nobly done, but it reminds one too 
much of Wilson. The only fault, however, of any consequence 
is the female figure, which is too old and decrepit for one 
likely to frequent an eminence on such a call. 

There is a Thorn — it looks so old, 
In truth, you'd find it hard to say 
How it could ever have been young, 
It looks so old and grey. 
Not higher than a two years' child 
It stands erect, this aged Thorn; 
No leaves it has, no prickly points; 
It is a mass of knotted joints, 
A wretched thing forlorn. 
[ 16] 


It stands erect, and like a stone 
With lichens is it overgrown. 


"Like rock or stone, it is o'ergrown, ' 
With lichens to the very top, 
And hung with heavy tufts of moss, 
A melancholy crop : 
Up from the earth these mosses creep. 
And this poor Thorn they clasp it round 
So close, you 'd say that they are bent 
With plain and manifest intent 
To drag it to the ground; 
And all have joined in one endeavour 
To bury this poor Thorn for ever. 


"High on a mountain's highest ridge, 
Where oft the stormy winter gale 
Cuts like a scythe, while through the clouds 
It sweeps from vale to vale; 
Not five yards from the mountain path. 
This Thorn you on your left espy; 
And to the left, three yards beyond. 
You see a little muddy pond 
Of water — never dry 
[ 17 1 


Though but of compass small, and bare 
To thirsty suns and parching air. 


'And, close beside this aged Thorn, 

There is a fresh and lovely sight, 

A beauteous heap, a hill of moss, 

Just half a foot in height. 

All lovely colours there you see, 

All colours that were ever seen; 

And mossy network too is there. 

As if by hand of lady fair 

The work had woven been; 

And cups, the darlings of the eye. 

So deep is their vermilion dye. 

Ah me! what lovely tints are there 
Of olive green and scarlet bright. 
In spikes, in branches, and in stars. 
Green, red, and pearly white! 
This heap of earth o'ergrown with moss. 
Which close beside the Thorn you see. 
So fresh in all its beauteous dyes, 
Is like an infant's grave in size. 
Is like as like can be : 
f 18 1 


But never, never any where, 

An infant's grave was half so fair. 


'*Now would you see this aged Thorn, 
This pond, and beauteous hill of moss. 
You must take care and choose your time 
The mountain when to cross. 
For oft there sits between the heap 
So like an infant's grave in size, 
And that same pond of which I spoke, 
A Woman in a scarlet cloak, 
And to herself she cries, 

'Oh misery! oh misery! 
Oh woe is me! oh misery!' 


'*At all times of the day and night 
This wretched Woman thither goes; 
And she is known to every star. 
And every wind that blows; 
And there, beside the Thorn, she sits 
When the blue daylight's in the skies 
And when the whirlwind 's on the hill. 
Or frosty air is keen and still. 
And to herself she cries, 
f 19 1 


*0h misery! oh misery! 
Oh woe is me! oh misery!'" 


"Now wherefore, thus, by day and nightp 
In rain, in tempest, and in snow, 
Thus to the dreary mountain-top 
Does this poor Woman go? 
And why sits she beside the Thorn 
When the blue dayhght 's in the sky. 
Or when the whirlwind 's on the hill, 
Or frosty air is keen and still, 
And wherefore does she cry? — 
O wherefore? wherefore? tell me why 
Does she repeat that doleful cry?" 


"I cannot tell; I wish I could; 
For the true reason no one knows: 
But would you gladly view the spot. 
The spot to which she goes; 
The hillock like an infant's grave, 
The pond — and Thorn, so old and grey; 
Pass by her door — 't is seldom shut — 
And, if you see her in her hut — 
Then to the spot away ! 
[ 20 1 


I never heard of such as dare 
Approach the spot when she is there." 

'But wherefore to the mountain-top 
Can this unhappy Woman go? 
Whatever star is in the skies, 
Whatever wind may blow?" 
'Full twenty years are past and gone 
Since she (her name is Martha Ray) 
Gave with a maiden's true good-will 
Her company to Stephen Hill; 
And she was blithe and gay, 
W^hile friends and kindred all approved 
Of him whom tenderly she loved. 


'And they had fixed the wedding day. 
The morning that must wed them both; 
But Stephen to another Maid 
Had sworn another oath; 
And, with this other Maid, to church 
Unthinking Stephen went — 
Poor Martha! on that woeful day 
A pang of pitiless dismay 
Into her soul was sent; 
[ 21 1 


A fire was kindled in her breast. 
Which might not burn itself to rest. 


'They say, full six months after this, 
While yet the summer leaves were green. 
She to the mountain-top would go, 
And there was often seen. 
What could she seek? — or wish to hide? 
Her state to any eye was plain; 
She was with child, and she was mad; 
Yet often was she sober sad 
From her exceeding pain. 
O guilty Father — would that death 
Had saved him from that breach of faith ! 


'Sad case for such a brain to hold 
Communion with a stirring child ! 
Sad case, as you may think, for one 
Who had a brain so wild ! 
Last Christmas-eve we talked of this. 
And grey-haired Wilfred of the glen 
Held that the unborn infant wrought 
About its mother's heart, and brought 
Her senses back again: 


And, when at last her time drew near. 
Her looks were calm, her senses clear. 


More know I not, I wish I did. 

And it should all be told to you; 

For what became of this poor child 

No mortal ever knew; 

Nay — if a child to her was born 

No earthly tongue could ever tell; 

And if 't was born alive or dead. 

Far less could this with proof be said; 

But some remember well. 

That Martha Ray about this time 

Would up the mountain often climb. 


'And all that winter, when at night 
The wind blew from the mountain-peak, 
'T was worth your while, though in the dark. 
The churchyard path to seek! 
For many a time and oft were heard 
Cries coming from the mountain head: 
Some plainly living voices were; 
And others, I ' ve heard many swear. 
Were voices of the dead: 


I cannot think, whate'er they say. 
They had to do with Martha Ray. 


"But that she goes to this old Thorn, 
The Thorn which I described to you. 
And there sits in a scarlet cloak 
I will be sworn is true. 
For one day with my telescope. 
To view the ocean wide and bright. 
When to this country first I came. 
Ere I had heard of Martha's name, 
I climbed the mountain's height: — 
A storm came on, and I could see 
No object higher than my knee. 


"'T was mist and rain, and storm and rain: 
No screen, no fence could I discover; 
And then the wind ! in sooth, it was 
A wind full ten times over. 
I looked around, I thought I saw 
A jutting crag, — and off I ran. 
Head-foremost, through the driving rain. 
The shelter of the crag to gain; 
And, as I am a man, 
[ 24 ] 


Instead of jutting crag, I found 
A Woman seated on the ground. 


"I did not speak — I saw her face; 
Her face! — it was enough for me; 
I turned about and heard her cry, 

*0h misery! oh misery!' 
And there she sits, until the moon 
Through half the clear blue sky will go; 
And, when the little breezes make 
The waters of the pond to shake, 
As all the country know, 
She shudders, and you hear her cry, 

*0h misery! oh misery!'" 


"But what's the Thorn? and what the pond? 

And what the hill of moss to her? 

And what the creeping breeze that comes 

The little pond to stir?" 
"I cannot tell; but some will say 

She hanged her baby on the tree; 

Some say she drowned it in the pond. 

Which is a little step beyond: 

But all and each agree, 
. [ 25 ] 


The little Babe was buried there. 
Beneath that hill of moss so fair. 


"I've heard, the moss is spotted red 
With drops of that poor infant's blood; 
But kill a new-born infant thus, 
I do not think she could ! 
Some say, if to the pond you go. 
And fix on it a steady view, 
The shadow of a babe you trace, 
A baby and a baby's face. 
And that it looks at you; 
Whene'er you look on it, 't is plain 
The baby looks at you again. 


"And some had sworn an oath that she 
Should be to public justice brought; 
And for the little infant's bones 
With spades they would have sought. 
But instantly the hill of moss 
Before their eyes began to stir! 
And, for full fifty yards around. 
The grass — it shook upon the ground ! 
Yet all do still aver 
[ 26 ] 


The little Babe lies buried there. 
Beneath that hill of moss so fair. 


'I cannot tell how this may be. 
But plain it is the Thorn is bound 
With heavy tufts of moss that strive 
To drag it to the ground; 
And this I know, full many a time. 
When she was on the mountain high. 
By day, and in the silent night, 
When all the stars shone clear and bright. 
That I have heard her cry, 
'^Oh misery! oh misery! 
Oh woe is me! oh misery!'" 

[ 27 



1798 1798 

Written at Alfoxden. The incident from Dr. Darwin's 

Oh! what's the matter? what's the matter? 
What is 't that ails young Harry Gill? 
That evermore his teeth they chatter. 
Chatter, chatter, chatter still! 
Of waistcoats Harry has no lack, 
Good duffle grey, and flannel fine; 
He has a blanket on his back, 
And coats enough to smother nine. 

In March, December, and in July, 
'T is all the same with Harry Gill; 
The neighbours tell, and tell you truly, 
His teeth they chatter, chatter still. 
At night, at morning, and at noon, 
'T is all the same with Harry Gill; 
Beneath the sun, beneath the moon, 
His teeth they chatter, chatter still! 
[ 28 ] 


Young Harry was a lusty drover, 
And who so stout of limb as he? 
His cheeks were red as ruddy clover; 
His voice was like the voice of three. 
Old Goody Blake was old and poor; 
111 fed she was, and thinly clad; 
And any man who passed her door 
Might see how poor a hut she had. 

All day she spun in her poor dwelling: 
And then her three hours' work at night, 
Alas ! 't was hardly worth the telling, 
It would not pay for candle-light. 
Remote from sheltered village-green. 
On a hill's northern side she dwelt, 
Where from sea-blasts the hawthorns lean^ 
And hoary dews are slow to melt. 

By the same fire to boil their pottage. 
Two poor old Dames, as I have known, 
Will often live in one small cottage; 
But she, poor Woman! housed alone. 
'T was well enough when summer came, 
The long, warm, lightsome summer-day, 
Then at her door the canty Dame 
Would sit, as any linnet, gay. 
f 29 1 



But when the ice our streams did fetter. 
Oh then how her old bones would shake ! 
You would have said, if you had met her, 
'T was a hard time for Goody Blake. 
Her evenings then were dull and dead : 
Sad case it was, as you may think. 
For very cold to go to bed. 
And then for cold not sleep a wink. 

O joy for her! whene'er in winter 
The winds at night had made a rout; 
And scattered many a lusty splinter 
And many a rotten bough about. 
Yet never had she, well or sick. 
As every man who knew her says, 
A pile beforehand, turf or stick. 
Enough to warm her for three days. 

Now, when the frost was past enduring. 
And made her poor old bones to ache. 
Could any thing be more alluring 
Than an old hedge to Goody Blake .^^ 
And, now and then, it must be said. 
When her old bones were cold and chill. 
She left her fire, or left her bed. 
To seek the hedge of Harry Gill, 
f 30 1 


Now Harry he had long suspected 
This trespass of old Goody Blake; 
And vowed that she should be detected — 
That he on her would vengeance take. 
And oft from his warm fire he'd go, 
And to the fields his road would take; 
And there, at night, in frost and snow, 
He watched to seize old Goody Blake. 

And once, behind a rick of barley. 
Thus looking out did Harry stand: 
The moon was full and shining clearly. 
And crisp with frost the stubble land. 
— He hears a noise — he 's all awake — 
Again .^ — on tip-toe down the hill 
He softly creeps — 't is Goody Blake; 
She 's at the hedge of Harry Gill ! 

Right glad was he when he beheld her: 
Stick after stick did Goody pull: 
He stood behind a bush of elder. 
Till she had filled her apron full. 
When with her load she turned about. 
The by-way back again to take; 
He started forward, with a shout. 
And sprang upon poor Goody Blake. 
[31 ] 


And fiercely by the arm he took her, 
And by the arm he held her fast, 
And fiercely by the arm he shook her, 
And cried, "I've caught you then at last!" 
Then Goody, who had nothing said, 
Her bundle from her lap let fall; 
And, kneeling on the sticks, she prayed 
To God that is the judge of all. 

She prayed, her withered hand uprearing, 

While Harry held her by the arm — 
" God ! who art never out of hearing, 

O may he never more be warm!" 
s The cold, cold moon above her head, 
\ Thus on her knees did Goody pray; 
I Young Harry heard what she had said: 

i And icy cold he turned away. 

He went complaining all the morrow 
That he was cold and very chill : 
His face was gloom, his heart was sorrow, 
Alas ! that day for Harry Gill ! 
That day he wore a riding-coat. 
But not a whit the warmer he : 
Another was on Thursday brought, 
And ere the Sabbath he had three. 


'T was all in vain, a useless matter, 
And blankets were about him pinned; 
Yet still his jaws and teeth they clatter; 
Like a loose casement in the wind. 
And Harry's flesh it fell away; 
And all who see him say, 't is plain, 
That, live as long as live he may. 
He never will be warm again. 

No word to any man he utters, 
A-bed or up, to young or old; 
But ever to himself he mutters, 
'Poor Harry Gill is very cold." 
A-bed or up, by night or day; 
His teeth they chatter, chatter stilL 
Now think, ye farmers all, I pray. 
Of Goody Blake and Harry Gill! 

33 ] 


1798 1798 

Written at Alfoxden. The subject was reported to me by 
a lady of Bristol, who had seen the poor creature. 

Her eyes are wild, her head is bare. 

The sun has burnt her coal-black hair; 

Her eyebrows have a rusty stain. 

And she came far from over the main. 

She has a baby on her arm. 

Or else she were alone : 

And underneath the hay-stack warm. 

And on the greenwood stone, 

She talked and sung the woods among. 

And it was in the English tongue. 


" Sweet babe ! they say that I am mad. 

But nay, my heart is far too glad; 
And I am happy when I sing 
Full many a sad and doleful thing: 


Then, lovely baby, do not fear! 
I pray thee have no fear of me; 
But safe as in a cradle, here. 
My lovely baby ! thou shalt be : 
To thee I know too much I owe; 
I cannot work thee any woe. 


**A fire was once within my brain; 
And in my head a dull, dull pain; 
And fiendish faces, one, two, three. 
Hung at my breast, and pulled at me; 
But then there came a sight of joy; 
It came at once to do me good; 
I waked, and saw my little boy. 
My little boy of flesh and blood; 
Oh joy for me that sight to see ! 
For he was here, and only he. 


"Suck, little babe, oh suck again! 
It cools my blood; it cools my brain; 
Thy lips I feel them, baby ! they 
Draw from my heart the pain away. 
Oh! press me with thy little hand; 
It loosens something at my chest; 
[ 35 1 


About that tight and deadly band 
I feel thy little fingers prest. 
The breeze I see is in the tree: 
It comes to cool my babe and me. 

"Oh! love me, love me, little boy! 
Thou art thy mother's only joy; 
And do not dread the waves below, 
When o'er the sea-rock's edge we go; 
The high crag cannot work me harm. 
Nor leaping torrents when they howl; 
The babe I carry on my arm, 
He saves for me my precious soul; 
Then happy lie; for blest am I; 
Without me my sweet babe would die. 


"Then do not fear, my boy! for thee 
Bold as a lion will I be; 
And I will always be thy guide. 
Through hollow snows and rivers wide, 
I'll build an Indian bower; I know 
The leaves that make the softest bed: 
And, if from me thou wilt not go, 
But still be true till I am dead, 
[36 ] 


My pretty thing ! then thou shalt sing 
As merry as the birds in spring. 


"Thy father cares not for my breast, 
'T is thine, sweet baby, there to rest; 
T is all thine own! — and, if its hue 
Be changed, that was so fair to view, 
'T is fair enough for thee, my dove! 
My beauty, little child, is flown, 
But thou wilt Uve with me in love. 
And what if my poor cheek be brown? 
*T is well for me, thou canst not see 
How pale and wan it else would be. 


"Dread not their taunts, my little Life; 
I am thy father's wedded wife; 
And underneath the spreading tree 
We two will live in honesty. 
If his sweet boy he could forsake. 
With me he never would have stayed: 
From him no harm my babe can take; 
But he, poor man! is wretched made; 
And every day we two will pray 
For him that 's gone and far away. 
I 37 ] 




"I'll teach my boy the sweetest things: 
I '11 teach him how the owlet sings. 
My little babe ! thy lips are still, 
And thou hast almost sucked thy fill. 
— Where art thou gone, my own dear child? 
What wicked looks are those I see? 
Alas! alas! that look so wild, 
It never, never came from me: 
If thou art mad, my pretty lad. 
Then I must be for ever sad. 


"Oh! smile on me, my little lamb! 
For I thy own dear mother am: 
My love for thee has well been tried: 
I've sought thy father far and wide. 
I know the poisons of the shade; 
I know the earth-nuts fit for food: 
Then, pretty dear, be not afraid: 
We '11 find thy father in the wood. 
Now laugh and be gay, to the woods away! 
And there, my babe, we'll live for aye." 

[ 38 



1798 1798 

This old man had been huntsman to the squires of Alfoxden, 
which, at the time we occupied it, belonged to a minor. The 
old man's cottage stood upon the common, a little way from 
the entrance to Alfoxden Park. But it had disappeared. Many 
other changes had taken place in the adjoining village, which 
I could not but notice with a regret more natural than well- 
considered. Improvements but rarely appear such to those 
who, after long intervals of time, revisit places they have had 
much pleasure in. It is unnecessary to add, the fact was as 
mentioned in the poem; and I have, after an interval of forty- 
five years, the image of the old man as fresh before my eyes 
as if I had seen him yesterday. The expression when the 
hounds were out, "I dearly love their voice," was word for 
word from his own lips. 

In the sweet shire of Cardigan, 
Not far from pleasant Ivor-hall, 
An old Man dwells, a little man, — 
'T is said he once was tall. 
Full five-and-thirty years he lived 
A running huntsman merry; 
And still the centre of his cheek 
Is red as a ripe cherry. 
[ 39 ] 


No man like him the horn could sound. 

And hill and valley rang with glee 

When Echo bandied, round and round. 

The halloo of Simon Lee. 

In those proud days, he little cared 

For husbandry or tillage; 

To blither tasks did Simon rouse 

The sleepers of the village. 

He all the country ccnld outrun. 

Could leave both man and horse behind; 

And often, ere the chase was done, 

He reeled, and was stone-blind. 

And still there 's something in the world 

At which his heart rejoices; 

For when the chiming hounds are out. 

He dearly loves their voices 1 

But, oh the heavy change ! — bereft 
Of health, strength, friends, and kindred, see ! 
Old Simon to the world is left 
In liveried poverty. 
His Master 's dead, — and no one now 
Dwells in the Hall of Ivor; 
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead; 
He is the sole survivor. 
[ 40 ] 


And he is lean and he is sick; 
His body, dwindled and awry, 
Rests upon ankles swoln and thick; 
His legs are thin and dry. 
One prop he has, and only one, 
His wife, an aged woman. 
Lives with him, near the waterfall, 
Upon the village Common. 

Beside their moss-grown hut of clay. 
Not twenty paces from the door, 
A scrap of land they have, but they 
Are poorest of the poor. 
This scrap of land he from the heath 
Enclosed when he was stronger; 
But what to them avails the land 
Which he can till no longer? 

Oft, working by her Husband's side, 
Ruth does what Simon cannot do; 
For she, with scanty cause for pride, 
Is stouter of the two. 
And, though you with your utmost skill 
From labour could not wean them, 
'T is little, very little — all 
That they can do between them. 
f 41 1 


Few months of life has he in store 
As he to you will tell, 
For still, the more he works, the more 
Do his weak ankles swell. 
My gentle Reader, I perceive 
How patiently you've waited. 
And now I fear that you expect 
Some tale will be related. 

O Reader ! had you in your mind 

Such stores as silent thought can brings 

O gentle Reader! you would find 

A tale in every thing. 

What more I have to say is short, 

And you must kindly take it : 

It is no tale; but, should you think. 

Perhaps a tale you '11 make it. 

One summer-day I chanced to see 
This old Man doing all he could 
To unearth the root of an old tree, 
A stump of rotten wood. 
The mattock tottered in his hand; 
So vain was his endeavour, 
That at the root of the old tree 
He might have worked for ever» 
[ 42 ] 


'You're overtasked, good Simon Lee, 
Give me your tool," to him I said; 
And at the word right gladly he 
Received my proffered aid. 
I struck, and with a single blow 
The tangled root I severed. 
At which the poor old Man so long 
And vainly had endeavoured. 

The tears into his eyes were brought, 
And thanks and praises seemed to run 
So fast out of his heart, I thought 
They never would have done. 
— I 've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds 
With coldness still returning; 
Alas! the gratitude of men 
Hath oftener left me mourning. 

[ 43 


1798 1798 

Actually composed while I was sitting by the side of the 
brook that runs down from the Comb, in which stands the 
village of Alford, through the grounds of Alfoxden. It was a 
chosen resort of mine. The brook fell down a sloping rock so 
as to make a waterfall considerable for that country, and 
across the pool below had fallen a tree, an ash if I rightly re- 
member, from which rose perpendicularly, boughs in search 
of the light intercepted by the deep shade above. The boughs 
bore leaves of green that for want of sunshine had faded into 
almost lily-white; and from the underside of this natural 
sylvan bridge depended long and beautiful tresses of ivy which 
waved gently in the breeze that might poetically speaking be 
called the breath of the waterfall. This motion varied of 
course in proportion to the power of water in the brook. 
When, with dear friends, I revisited this spot, after an interval 
of more than forty years, this interesting feature of the scene 
was gone. To the owner of the place I could not but regret 
that the beauty of this retired part of the grounds had not 
tempted him to make it more accessible by a path, not broad 
or obtrusive, but sufficient for persons who love such scenes 
to creep along without difficulty. 

I HEARD a thousand blended notes, 
While in a grove I sate reclined, 
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts 
Bring sad thoughts to the mind. 
[ 44 ] 


To her fair works did Nature link 
The human soul that through me ran; 
And much it grieved my heart to think 
What man has made of man. 

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower, 
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths; 
And 't is my faith that every flower 
Enjoys the air it breathes. 

The birds around me hopped and played. 
Their thoughts I cannot measure : — 
But the least motion which they made 
It seemed a thrill of pleasure. 

The budding twigs spread out their fan. 
To catch the breezy air; 
And I must think, do all I can, 
That there was pleasure there. 

If this belief from heaven be sent. 
If such be Nature's holy plan. 
Have I not reason to lament 
What man has made of man? 

[45 ] 


1798 1798 

Composed in front of Alfoxden House. My little boy-mes- 
senger on this occasion was the son of Basil Montagu. The 
larch mentioned in the first stanza was standing when I re- 
visited the place in May, 1841, more than forty years after. 
I was disappointed that it had not improved in appearance 
as to size, nor had it acquired anything of the majesty of age, 
which, even though less perhaps than any other tree, the larch 
sometimes does. A few score yards from this tree, grew, 
when we inhabited Alfoxden, one of the most remarkable 
beech-trees ever seen. The ground sloped both towards and 
from it. It was of immense size, and threw out arms that 
struck into the soil, like those of the banyan- tree, and rose 
again from it. Two of the branches thus inserted themselves 
twice, which gave to each the appearance of a serpent moving 
along by gathering itself up in folds. One of the large boughs 
of this tree had been torn off by the wind before we left Alfox- 
den, but five remained. In 1841 we could barely find the spot 
where the tree had stood. So remarkable a production of 
Nature could not have been wilfully destroyed. 

.It is the first mild day of March: 
Each minute sweeter than before 
The redbreast sings from the tall larclj 
That stands beside our door. 

There is a blessing in the air, 
Which seems a sense of joy to yield 
f 46 1 


To the bare trees, and mountains bare, 
And grass in the green field. 

My sister ! ('t is a wish of mine) 
Now that our morning meal is done, 
Make haste, your morning task resign; 
Come forth and feel the sun. 

Edward will come with you; — and, pray. 
Put on with speed your woodland dress; 
And bring no book: for this one day 
We'll give to idleness. 

No joyless forms shall regulate 
Our living calendar: 
We from to-day, my Friend, will date 
The opening of the year. 

Love, now a universal birth. 
From heart to heart is stealing. 
From earth to man, from man to earth: 
— It is the hour of feeling. \ 

One moment now may give us more ^ 
Than years of toiling reason : 
Our minds shall drink at every pore 
The spirit of the season. 


Some silent laws our hearts will make. 
Which they shall long obey: 
We for the year to come may take 
Our temper from to-day. 

And from the blessed power that rolls 
About, below, above. 
We'll frame the measure of our souls: 
They shall be tuned to love. 

Then come, my Sister ! come, I pray, 
With speed put on your woodland dress; 
x\nd bring no book: for this one day 
We '11 give to idleness. 

( 48 1 


1798 1800 

Observed in the holly-grove at Alfoxden, where these verses 
were written in the spring of 1799. I had the pleasure of again 
seeing, with dear friends, this grove in unimpaired beauty 
forty-one years after. 

A WHIRL-BLAST from behind the hill 
Rushed o'er the wood with startling sound; 
Then — all at once the air was still. 
And showers of hailstones pattered round. 
Where leafless oaks towered high above, 
I sat within an undergrove 
Of tallest hollies, tall and green; 
A fairer bower was never seen. 
From year to year the spacious floor 
With withered leaves is covered o'er. 
And all the year the bower is green. 
But see! where'er the hailstones drop 
The withered leaves all skip and hop; 
There 's not a breeze — no breath of air — 
Yet here, and there, and everywhere 
Along the floor, beneath the shade 
[ 49 ] 


By those embowering hollies made, 
The leaves in myriads jump and spring. 
As if with pipes and music rare 
Some Robin Good-fellow were there. 
And all those leaves, in festive gleCj 
Were dancing to the minstrelsy. 



1798 1798 

This poem is a favourite among the Quakers, as I have 
learnt on many occasions. It was composed in front of the 
house at Alfoxden, in the spring of 1798. • 

"Why, William, on that old grey stone, 
Thus for the length of half a day. 
Why, William, sit you thus alone, 
And dream your time away? 

"Where are your books? — that light bequeathed 
To Beings else forlorn and blind ! 
Up! up! and drink the spirit breathed 
From dead men to their kind. 

" You look round on your Mother Earth, 
As if she for no purpose bore you; 
As if you were her first-born birth, 
And none had lived before you!" 

One morning thus, by Esthwaite lake. 
When life was sweet, I knew not why. 
To me my good friend Matthew spake. 
And thus I made reply : 
[ 51 ] 


"The eye — it cannot choose but see; 
We cannot bid the ear be still; 
Our bodies feel, where'er they be. 
Against or with our will. 

"Nor less I deem that there are Powers 
Which of themselves our minds impress; 
That we can feed this mind of ours 

i In a wise passiveness. 

"Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum 
Of things for ever speaking. 
That nothing of itself will come. 
But we must still be seeking? 

j/" — Then ask not wherefore, here, alone, 
Conversing as I may, 
I sit upon this old grey stone. 
And dream my time away." 




1798 1798 

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books; 
Or surely you'll grow double: 
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks; 
Why all this toil and trouble ? 

The sun, above the mountain's head, . 
A freshening lustre mellow 
Through all the long green fields has spread. 
His first sweet evening yellow. 

Books i 't is s. dull and endless strife: 
Oome, hea: the woodland linnet, 
How sweet his music ! on my life. 
There's more of wisdom in it. 

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings! 
He, too, is no mean preacher : 
Come forth into the light of things. 
Let Nature be your teacher. 
[53 1 


She has a world of ready wealth, 
Our minds and hearts to bless — 
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, 
Truth breathed by cheerfulness. 

One impulse from a vernal wood 
May teach you more of man, 
Of moral evil and of good. 
Than all the sages can. 

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; 
Our meddling intellect 
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things; 
We murder to dissect. 

Enough of Science and of Art; 
Close up those barren leaves; 
Come forth, and bring with you a heart 
That watches and receives. 




1798 1798 

Written at Alfoxden, where I read Hearne's Journey with 
deep interest. It was composed for the volume of Lyrical 

When a Northern Indian, from sickness, is unable to con- 
tinue his journey with his companions, he is left behind, cov- 
ered over with deer-skins, and is supplied with water, food, 
and fuel, if the situation of the place will afford it. He is in- 
formed of the track which his companions intend to pursue, 
and if he be unable to follow, or overtake them, he perishes 
alone in the desert; unless he should have the good fortune 
to fall in with some other tribes of Indians. The females are 
equally, or still more, exposed to the same fate. See that very 
interesting work Hearne's Journey from Hudson's Bay to 
the Northern Ocean. In the high northern latitudes, as the 
same writer informs us, when the northern lights vary their 
position in the air, they make a rustling and a crackling noise, 
as alluded to in the following poem. 

Before I see another day. 
Oh let my body die away! 
In sleep I heard the northern gleams; 
The stars, they were among my dreams; 
In rustling conflict through the skies, 
I heard, I saw the flashes drive, 
[ 55 1 


And yet they are upon my eyes. 
And yet I am alive; 
Before I see another day. 
Oh let my body die away! 


My fire is dead: it knew no pain; 

Yet is it dead, and I remain: 

All stiff with ice the ashes lie; 

And they are dead, and I will die. 

When I was well, I wished to live. 

For clothes, for warmth, for food, and fire; 

But they to me no joy can give. 

No pleasure now, and no desire. 

Then here contented will I lie! 

Alone, I cannot fear to die. 


Alas ! ye might have dragged me on 
Another day, a single one! 
Too soon I yielded to despair; 
Why did ye listen to my prayer? 
When ye were gone my limbs were stronger; 
And oh, how grievously I rue. 
That, afterwards, a little longer. 
My friends, I did not follow you! 


For strong and without pain I lay. 
Dear friends, when ye were gone away. 


My Child ! they gave thee to another, 
A woman who was not thy mother. 
When from my arms my Babe they took. 
On me how strangely did he look ! 
Through his whole body something ran, 
A most strange working did I see; 
— As if he strove to be a man, 
That he might pull the sledge for me: 
And then he stretched his arms, how wild! 
Oh mercy! like a helpless child. 

My little joy! my little pride! 
In two days more I must have died. 
Then do not weep and grieve for me; 
I feel I must have died with thee. 

wind, that o'er my head art flying 
The way my friends their course did bend, 

1 should not feel the pain of dying, 
Could I with thee a message send; 
Too soon, my friends, ye went away; 
For I had many things to say. 

[ 57 1 



I'll follow you across the snow; 

Ye travel heavily and slow; 

In spite of all my weary pain 

I '11 look upon your tents again. 

— My fire is dead, and snowy, white 

The water which beside it stood: 

The wolf has come to me to-night, 

And he has stolen away my food. 

For ever left alone am I; 

Then wherefore should I fear to die? 


Young as I am, my course is run, 

I shall not see another sun; 

I cannot lift my limbs to know 

If they have any life or no. 

My poor forsaken Child, if I 

For once could have thee close to me. 

With happy heart I then would die, 

And my last thought would happy be; 

But thou, dear Babe, art far away. 

Nor shall I see another day. 

[ 58 


1798 1798 

Produced at the same time and for the same purpose. The 
incident occurred in the village of Holford, close by Alfoxden. 

In distant countries have I been, 
And yet I have not often seen 
A healthy man, a man full grown, 
Weep in the public roads, alone. 
But such a one, on English ground, 
And in the broad highway, I met; 
Along the broad highway he came. 
His cheeks with tears were wet: 
Sturdy he seemed, though he was sad; 
And in his arms a Lamb he had. 


He saw me, and he turned aside. 
As if he wished himself to hide: 
And with his coat did then essay 
To wipe those briny tears away. 
I followed him, and said, " My friend, 
What ails you? wherefore weep you so?'* 
f 59 ] 


— "Shame on me, Sir! this lusty Lamb, 
He makes my tears to flow. 

To-day I fetched him from the rock; 
He is the last of all my flock. 


■^'When I was young, a single man, 
And after youthful follies ran. 
Though little given to care and thought. 
Yet, so it was, an ewe I bought; 
And other sheep from her I raised. 
As healthy sheep as you might see; 
And then I married, and was rich 
As I could wish to be; 
Of sheep I numbered a full score. 
And every year increased my store. 


"Year after year my stock it grew; 
And from this one, this single ewe, 
Full fifty comely sheep I raised. 
As fine a flock as ever grazed ! 
Upon the Quantock hills they fed; 
They throve, and we at home did thrive; 

— This lusty Lamb of all my store 
Is all that is alive; 

[ 60 1 


And now I care not if wc die, 
And perish all of poverty. 


"Six Children, Sir! had I to feed; 
Hard labour in a time of need ! 
My pride was tamed, and in our grief 
I of the Parish asked relief. 
They said, I was a wealthy man; 
My sheep upon the uplands fed. 
And it was fit that thence I took 
Whereof to buy us bread. 
*Do this: how can we give to you,' 
They cried, *what to the poor is due?' 


"I sold a sheep, as they had said. 
And bought my little children bread, 
And they were healthy with their food, 
For me — it never did me good. 
A woeful time it was for me, 
To see the end of all my gains, 
The pretty flock which I had reared 
With all my care and pains. 
To see it melt like snow away — 
For me it was a woeful day. 
[01 ] 



'Another still! and still another! 
A little lamb, and then its mother! 
It was a vein that never stopped — 
Like blood-drops from my heart they dropped. 
Till thirty were not left alive 
They dwindled, dwindled, one by one. 
And I may say, that many a time 
I wished they all were gone — 
Reckless of what might come at last 
Were but the bitter struggle past. 


'To wicked deeds I was inclined. 
And wicked fancies crossed my mind; 
And every man I chanced to see, 
I thought he knew some ill of me : ^ 
No peace, no comfort could I find. 
No ease, within doors or without; 
And, crazily and wearily 
I went my work about; 
And oft was moved to flee from home. 
And hide my head where wild beasts roam. 


'Sir! 't was a precious flock to me 
As dear as my own children be; 


For daily with my growing store 

I loved my children more and more. 

Alas! it was an evil time; 

God cursed me in my sore distress; 

I prayed, yet every day I thought 

I loved my children less; 

And every week, and every day, 

My flock it seemed to melt away. 

"They dwindled. Sir, sad sight to see! 
From ten to five, from five to three, 
A lamb, a wether, and a ewe ; — 
And then at last from three to two; 
And, of my fifty, yesterday 
I had but only one: 
And here it lies upon my arm, 
Alas! and I have none; — 
To-day I fetched it from the rock; 
It is the last of all my flock." 



1798 1798 

The last stanza — "The Cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo, 
And the sun did shine so cold" — was the foundation of the 
whole. The words were reported to me by my dear friend, 
Thomas Poole; but I have since heard the same repeated of 
other Idiots. Let me add that this long poem was composed 
in the groves of Alfoxden, almost extempore; not a word, I 
believe, being corrected, though one stanza was omitted. 
I mention this in gratitude to those happy moments, for, 
in truth, I never wrote anything with so much glee. 

'T IS eight o'clock, — a clear March night. 
The moon is up, — the sky is blue, 
The owlet, in the moonlight air. 
Shouts from nobody knows where; 
He lengthens out his lonely shout, 
Halloo ! halloo ! a long halloo ! 

— Why bustle thus about your door, 
What means this bustle, Betty Foy? 
Why are you in this mighty fret? 
And why on horseback have you set 
Him whom you love, your Idiot Boy? 

Scarcely a soul is out of bed; 
Good Betty, put him down again; 
[ 64 ] 


His lips with joy they burr at you; 
But, Betty ! what has he to do 
With stirrup, saddle, or with rein? 

But Betty *s bent on her intent ; 
For her good neighbour, Susan Gale, 
Old Susan, she who dwells alone, 
Is sick, and makes a piteous moan 
As if her very life would fail. 

There 's not a house within a mile. 
No hand to help them in distress; 
Old Susan lies a-bed in pain. 
And sorely puzzled are the twain. 
For what she ails they cannot guess. 

And Betty's husband 's at the wood. 
Where by the week he doth abide, 
A woodman in the distant vale; 
There's none to help poor Susan Gale; 
What must be done? what will betide? 

And Betty from the lane has fetched 
Her Pony, that is mild and good; 
Whether he be in joy or pain. 
Feeding at will along the lane, 
Or bringing faggots from the wood. 
[ 65 ] 


And he is all in travelling trim, — 
And, by the moonlight, Betty Foy 
Has on the well-girt saddle set 
(The like was never heard of yet) 
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy. 

And he must post without delay 
Across the bridge and through the dale. 
And by the church, and o'er the down. 
To bring a Doctor from the town. 
Or she will die, old Susan Gale. 

There is no need of boot or spur. 
There is no need of whip or wand; 
For Johnny has his holly-bough. 
And with a hurly-burly now 
He shakes the green bough in his hand. 

And Betty o'er and o'er has told 
The Boy, who is her best delight. 
Both what to follow, what to shun. 
What do, and what to leave undone. 
How turn to left, and how to right. 

And Betty's most especial charge. 
Was, "Johnny! Johnny! mind that you 


Come home again, nor stop at all, — 
Come home again, whatever befall, 
My Johnny, do, I pray you do." 

To this did Johnny answer make, 
Both with his head and with his hand. 
And proudly shook the bridle too; 
And then ! his words were not a few. 
Which Betty well could understand. 

And now that Johnny is just going. 
Though Betty's in a mighty flurry. 
She gently pats the Pony's side. 
On which her Idiot Boy must ride. 
And seems no longer in a hurry. 

But when the Pony moved his legs. 
Oh ! then for the poor Idiot Boy ! 
For joy he cannot hold the bridle. 
For joy his head and heels are idle, 
He 's idle all for very joy. 

And while the Pony moves his legs. 
In Johnny's left hand you may see 
The green bough motionless and dead: 
The Moon that shines above his head 
Is not more still and mute than he. 
[ 67 ] 


His heart it was so full of glee, 
That till full fifty yards were gone. 
He quite forgot his holly whip, 
And all his skill in horsemanship : 
Oh! happy, happy, happy John. 

And while the Mother, at the door. 
Stands fixed, her face with joy o'erflows. 
Proud of herself, and proud of him. 
She sees him in his travelling trim. 
How quietly her Johnny goes. 

The silence of her Idiot Boy, 
What hopes it sends to Betty's heart ! 
He's at the guide-post — he turns right; 
She watches till he 's out of sight. 
And Betty will not then depart. 

Burr, burr — now Johnny's lips they burr, 
As loud as any mill, or near it; 
Meek as a lamb the Pony moves, 
And Johnny makes the noise he loves. 
And Betty listens, glad to hear it. 

Away she hies to Susan Gale : 
Her Messenger 's in merry tune; 
[ 68 1 


The owlets hoot, the owlets curr, 

And Johnny's Hps they burr, burr, burr. 

As on he goes beneath the moon. 

His steed and he right well agree; 
For of this Pony there 's a rumour, 
That, should he lose his eyes and ears. 
And should he live a thousand years. 
He never will be out of humour. 

But then he is a horse that thinks ! 
And when he thinks, his pace is slack; 
Now, though he knows poor Johnny well. 
Yet, for his life, he cannot tell 
What he has got upon his back. 

So through the moonlight lanes they go. 
And far into the moonlight dale. 
And by the church, and o'er the down. 
To bring a Doctor from the town. 
To comfort poor old Susan Gale. 

And Betty, now at Susan's side. 
Is in the middle of her story. 
What speedy help her Boy will bring. 
With many a most diverting thing. 
Of Johnny's wit, and Johnny's glory. 
[ 69 1 


And Betty, still at Susan's side, 
By this time is not quite so flurried: 
Demure with porringer and plate 
She sits, as if in Susan's fate 
Her life and soul were buried. 

But Betty, poor good woman! she, 
You plainly in her face may read it. 
Could lend out of that moment's store 
Five years of happiness or more 
To any that might need it. 

But yet I guess that now and then 
With Betty all was not so well; 
And to the road she turns her ears. 
And thence full many a sound she hearSj 
Which she to Susan will not tell. 

Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans; 
"As sure as there's a moon in heaven," 
Cries Betty, "he'll be back again; 
They '11 both be here — 't is almost ten — 
Both will be here before eleven." 

Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans; 
The clock gives warning for eleven; 
I 70] 


'Tis on the stroke — "He must be near," 
Quoth Betty, '*and will soon be here. 
As sure as there's a moon in heaven." 

The clock is on the stroke of twelve. 
And Johnny is not yet in sight: 

— The Moon 's in heaven, as Betty sees. 
But Betty is not quite at ease; 

And Susan has a dreadful night. 

And Betty, half an hour ago. 
On Johnny vile reflections cast: 
'A little idle sauntering Thing!'* 
With other names, an endless string; 
But now that time is gone and past. 

And Betty's drooping at the heart. 
That happy time all past and gone, 
'How^ can it be he is so late? 
The Doctor, he has made him wait; 
Susan! they'll both be here anon." 

And Susan 's growing worse and worse; 
And Betty's in a sad quandary; 
And then there's nobody to say 
If she must go, or she must stay! 

— She's in a sad quandary. 

f 71 1 


The clock is on the stroke of one; 
But neither Doctor nor his Guide 
Appears along the moonlight road; 
There's neither horse nor man abroad. 
And Betty 's still at Susan's side. 

And Susan now begins to fear 

Of sad mischances not a few: 

That Johnny may perhaps be drowned. 

Or lost, perhaps, and never found; 

Which they must both for ever rue. 

She prefaced half a hint of this 
With, "God forbid it should be true!'' 
At the first word that Susan said 
Cried Betty, rising from the bed, 
'' Susan, I 'd gladly stay with you. 

'I must be gone, I must away: 
Consider, Johnny's but half -wise; 
Susan, we must take care of him, 
If he is hurt in life or limb" — 
'Oh God forbid!" poor Susan cries. 

'What can I do?" says Betty, goings 
'What can I do to ease your pain? 
[ 72 ] 


Good Susan tell me, and I'll stay; 
I fear you 're in a dreadful way. 
But I shall soon be back again.'* 

'Nay, Betty, go! good Betty, go! 
There's nothing that can ease my pain." 
Then off she hies; but with a prayer 
That God poor Susan's life would spare, 
Till she comes back again. 

So, through the moonlight lane she goes, 
And far into the moonlight dale; 
And how she ran, and how she walked. 
And all that to herself she talked, 
Would surely be a tedious tale. 

In high and low, above, below. 
In great and small, in round and square. 
In tree and tower was Johnny seen. 
In bush and brake, in black and green; 
*T was Johnny, Johnny, every where. 

And while she crossed the bridge, there came 
A thought with which her heart is sere — 
Johnny perhaps his horse forsook, 
To hunt the moon within the brook. 
And never will be heard of more. 
[ 73 1 


Now is she high upon the down. 
Alone amid a prospect wide; 
There 's neither Johnny nor his Horse 
Among the fern or in the gorse; 
There's neither Doctor nor his Guide. 

'O saints! what is become of him? 
Perhaps he's cHmbed into an oak, 
Where he will stay till he is dead; 
Or, sadly he has been misled, 
And joined the wandering gipsy-folk. 

'Or him that wicked Pony 's carried 
To the dark cave, the goblin's hall; 
Or in the castle he's pursuing 
Among the ghosts his own undoing; 
Or playing with the waterfall." 

At poor old Susan then she railed, 
While to the town she posts away; 
Tf Susan had not been so ill, 
Alas! I should have had him still. 
My Johnny, till my dying day." 

Poor Betty, in this sad distemper. 
The Doctor's self could hardly spare: 


Unworthy things she talked, and wild; 
Even he, of cattle the most mild, 
The Pony had his share. 

But now she's fairly in the town. 
And to the Doctor's door she hies; 
'T is silence all on every side; 
The town so long, the town so wide, 
Is silent as the skies. 

And now she 's at the Doctor's door, 
She lifts the knocker, rap, rap, rap; 
The Doctor at the casement shows 
His glimmering eyes that peep and doze! 
And one hand rubs his old night-cap. 

"O Doctor! Doctor! where 's my Johnny?" 
"I 'm here, what is 't you want with me?" 
"0 Sir! you know I'm Betty Foy, 
And I have lost my poor dear Boy, 
You know him — him you often see; 

"He's not so wise as some folks be." 
"The devil take his wisdom!" said 

The Doctor, looking somewhat grim, 
"What, Woman! should I know of him?" 

And, grumbling, he went back to bed! 
[ 75 ] 


*'0 woe is me! O woe is me! 
Here will I die; here will I die; 
I thought to find my lost one here. 
But he is neither far nor near, 
Oh! what a wretched Mother I!" 

She stops, she stands, she looks about; 

Which way to turn she cannot tell. 

Poor Betty ! it would ease her pain 

If she had heart to knock again; 

— The clock strikes three — a dismal knell! 

Then up along the town she hies, 

No wonder if her senses fail; 

This piteous news so much it shocked her, 

She quite forgot to send the Doctor, 

To comfort poor old Susan Gale. 

And now she's high upon the down. 
And she can see a mile of road: 
"O cruel! I'm almost threescore; 
Such night as this was ne'er before. 
There's not a single soul abroad." 

She listens, but she cannot hear 
The foot of horse, the voice of man; 
[ 76 1 


The streams with softest sound are flowing, 
The grass you almost hear it growing, 
You hear it now% if e'er you can. 

The owlets through the long blue night 
Are shouting to each other still : 
Fond lovers ! yet not quite hob nob. 
They lengthen out the tremulous sob. 
That echoes far from hill to hill- 
Poor Betty now has lost all hope. 
Her thoughts are bent on deadly sin, 
A green-grown pond she just has past. 
And from the brink she hurries fast, 
Lest she should drown herself therein. 

And now she sits her down and weeps; 
Such tears she neyer shed before; 
*0h dear, dear Pony! my sweet joy! 
Oh carry back my Idiot Boy ! 
And we will ne'er o'erload thee more." 

A thought is come into her head: 
The Pony he is mild and good, 
And we have always used him well; 
Perhaps he *s gone along the dell, 
And carried Johnny to the wood. 
\ 77 1 


Then up she springs as if on wings; 
She thinks no more of deadly sin; 
If Betty fifty ponds should see. 
The last of all her thoughts would be 
To drown herself therein. 

O Reader! now that I might tell 
What Johnny and his Horse are doing. 
What they've been doing all this time. 
Oh could I put it into rhyme, 
A most delightful tale pursuing! 

Perhaps, and no unlikely thought! 
He with his Pony now doth roam 
The cliffs and peaks so high that are. 
To lay his hands upon a star, 
And in his pocket bring it home. 

Perhaps he 's turned himself about. 
His face unto his horse's tail. 
And, still and mute, in wonder lost. 
All silent as a horseman-ghost. 
He travels slowly down the vale. 

And now, perhaps, is hunting sheep, 
A fierce and dreadful hunter he; 



Yon valley, now so trim and green, 

In five months' time, should he be seen, 

A desert wilderness will be ! 

Perhaps, with head and heels on fire, 

And like the very soul of evil, 

He 's galloping away, away. 

And so will gallop on for aye, 

The bane of all that dread the devil! 

I to the Muses have been bound 

These fourteen years, by strong indentures. 

O gentle Muses! let me tell 

But half of what to him befell; 

He surely met with strange adventures. 

O gentle Muses! is this kind? 
Why will ye thus my suit repel? 
Why of your further aid bereave me? 
And can ye thus unfriended leave me, 
^e Muses! whom I love so well? 

Who's yon, that, near the waterfall, 
Which thunders down with headlong force 
Beneath the moon, yet shining fair, 
As careless as if nothing were. 
Sits upright on a feeding horse? 
f 79 1 


Unto his horse — there feeding free. 
He seems, I think, the rein to give; 
Of moon or stars he takes no heed; 
Of such we in romances read: 
— 'T is Johnny ! Johnny ! as I Hve. 

And that 's the very Pony, too ! 
Where is she, where is Betty Foy? 
She hardly can sustain her fears; 
The roaring waterfall she hears. 
And cannot find her Idiot Boy. 

Your Pony's worth his weight in gold° 
Then calm your terrors, Betty Foy ! 
She 's coming from among the trees, 
And now all full in view she sees 
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy. 

And Betty sees the Pony too: 

Why stand you thus, good Betty Foy? 

It is no goblin, 't is no ghost, 

'T is he whom you so long have lost 

He whom you love, your Idiot Boy. 

She looks again — her arms are up — 
She screams — she cannot move for joy; 
f 80 1 


She darts, as with a torrent's force. 
She almost has o'erturned the Horse, 
And fast she holds her Idiot Boy. 

And Johnny burrs, and laughs aloud; 
Whether in cunning or in joy 
I cannot tell; but while he laughs, 
Betty a drunken pleasure quaffs 
To hear again her Idiot Boy. 

And now she's at the Pony's tail. 
And now^ is at the Pony's head, — 
On that side now, and now on this; 
And, almost stifled with her bliss, 
A few sad tears does Betty shed. 

She kisses o'er and o'er again 
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy; 
She's happy here, is happy there, 
She is uneasy every where; 
Her limbs are all alive with joy. 

She pats the Pony, where or when 
She knows not, happy Betty Foy! 
The little Pony glad may be, 
But he is milder far than she, 
You hardly can perceive his joy. 
I 81 1 


'Oh! Johnny, never mind the Doctor; 
You've done your best, and that is all:" 
She took the reins, when this was said. 
And gently turned the Pony's head 
From the loud waterfall. 

By this the stars were almost gone. 
The moon was setting on the hill, 
So pale you scarcely looked at her: 
The little birds began to stir, 
Though yet their tongues were still. 

The Pony, Betty, and her Boy, 
Wind slowly through the woody dale; 
And who is she, betimes abroad. 
That hobbles up the steep rough road? 
Who is it, but^ld Susan Gale? 

Long time lay Susan lost in thought; 
And many dreadful fears beset her. 
Both for her Messenger and Nurse; 
And, as her mind grew worse and worse, 
Her body — it grew better. 

She turned, she tossed herself in bed. 
On all sides doubts and terrors met her; 
f 82 ] 


Point after point did she discuss; 
And, while her mind was fighting thus. 
Her body still grew better. 

'*Alas! what is become of them? 
These fears can never be endured; 
I'll to the wood." — The words scarce said. 
Did Susan rise up from her bed, 
As if by magic cured. 

Away she goes up hill and down. 

And to the wood at length is come; 

She spies her Friends, she shouts a greeting; 

Oh me! it is a merry meeting 

As ever was in Christendom. 

The owls have hardly sung their last. 

While our four travellers homeward wend; 

The owls have hooted all night long, ^(Lq.o r^xl 

And with the owls began my song, ^5V\ (fU^it 

And with the owls must end. 

For while they all were travelling home. 
Cried Betty, "Tell us, Johnny, do. 
Where all this long night you have been. 
What you have heard, what you have seen: 
And, Johnny, mind you tell us true." 
[ 83 ] 


Now Johnny all night long had heard 
The owls in tuneful concert strive; 
No doubt too he the moon had seen; 
For in the moonlight he had been 
From eight o'clock till five. 

And thus, to Betty's question, he 
Made answer, like a traveller bold, 
(His very words I give to y®u,) 
"The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo, 
And the sun did shine so cold!" 
— Thus answ^ered Johnny in his glory^ 
And that was all his travel's story. 

[ 84 


JULY 13, 1798 

1798 1798 

No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more 
pleasant for me to remember than this. I began it upon leav- 
ing Tintern, after crossing the Wye, and concluded it just 
as I was entering Bristol in the evening, after a ramble of four 
or five days, with my Sister. Not a line of it was altered, and 
not any part of it written down till I reached Bristol. It was 
published almost immediately after in the little volume of 
which so much has been said in these Notes. — (The Lyrical 
Ballads, as first published at Bristol by Cottle.) 

Five years have past; five summers, with the length 
Of five long winters ! and again I hear 
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs 
With a soft inland murmur. ^ — Once again 
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs. 
That on a wild secluded scene impress 
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect 
The landscape with the quiet of the sky. 
The day is come when I again repose 
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view 
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard- tufts, 
f 85 1 


Which at this season, with their unripe fruits. 
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves 
*Mid groves and copses. Once again I see 
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines 
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms. 
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke 
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees! 
With some uncertain notice, as might seem 
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods. 
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire 
The Hermit sits alone. 

These beauteous forms. 
Through a long absence, have not been to me 
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye: 
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din 
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them 
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet. 
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; 
And passing even into my purer mind. 
With tranquil restoration : — feelings too 
Of unremembered pleasure : such, perhaps. 
As have no slight or trivial influence 
On that best portion of a good man's life. 
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts 
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust. 
To them I may have owed another gift, 


Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood. 

In which the burthen of tKe^ystery, 

In which the heavy and the weary weight 

Of all this unintelligible world, 

Is lightened : — that serene and blessed mood? 

In w^hich the affections gently lead us on, — 

Until, the breath of this corporeal frame 

And even the motion of our human blood 

Almost suspended, we are laid asleep 

In body, and become a living soul : 

While with an eye made quiet by the power 

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy. 

We see into the life of things. » 

If this 
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh ! how oft — 
In darkness and amid the many shapes 
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir 
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world. 
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart — 
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, 
O sylvan Wye ! thou wanderer thro' the woods, 
How often has my spirit turned to thee ! 

And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought. 
With many recognitions dim and faint. 
And somewhat of a sad perplexity. 
The picture of the mind revives again: 


While here I stand, not only with the sense 
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts 
That in this moment there is life and food 
For future years. And so I dare to hope, 
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first 
I came among these hills; when like a roe 
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides 
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams. 
Wherever Nature led : more like a man 
Flying from something that he dreads, than one 
Who sought the thing he loved. For Nature then 
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days. 
And their glad animal movements all gone by) 
To me was all in all. — I cannot paint 
What then I was. The sounding cataract 
Haunted me like a passion : the tall rock. 
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood. 
Their colours and their forms, were then to me 
An appetite; a feeling and a love. 
That had no need of a remoter charm. 
By thought supplied, nor any interest 
Unborrowed from the eye. — That time is past. 
And all its aching joys are now no more 
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this 
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts 
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, 


Abundant recompense. For I have learned 

To look on Nature, not as in the hour 

Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes 

The still, sad music of humanity. 

Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power 

To chasten and subdue. And I have felt 

A presence that disturbs me with the joy 

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime 

Of something far more deeply interfused. 

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns. 

And the round ocean and the living air, 

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; 

A motion and a spirit, that impels 

All thinking things, all objects of all thought. 

And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still 

A lover of the meadows and the woods. 

And mountains; and of all that we behold 

From this green earth ; of all the mighty world 

Of eye, and ear, — both what they half create,^ 

And what perceive; well pleased to recognise 

In Nature and the language of the sense. 

The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse. 

The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul 

Of all my moral being. 

Nor perchance. 
If I were not thus taught, should I the more 
I 89 ] 


Suffer my genial spirits to decay: 
For thou art with me here upon the banks 
Of this fair river; thou my clearest Friend, 
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch 
The language of my former heart, and read 
My former pleasures in the shooting lights 
Of thy wild eyes. Oh ! yet a little while 
May I behold in thee what I was once, 
My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make. 
Knowing that Nature never did betray 
The heart that loved her; 't is her privilege, 
Through all the years of this our life, to lead 
From joy to joy: for she can so inform 
The mind that is within us, so impress 
With quietness and beauty, and so feed 
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues. 
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men. 
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all 
The dreary intercourse of daily life. 
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb 
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold 
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon 
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk; 
And let the misty mountain-winds be free 
To blow against thee : and, in after years. 
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured 
[ 90 1 


Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind 

Shall he a mansion for all lovely forms, 

Thy memorj^ be as a dwelling-place 

For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then. 

If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief. 

Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts 

Of tender joy wilt thou remember me, 

And these my exhortations ! Nor, perchance — 

If I should be where I no more can hear 

Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams 

Oi past existence — wilt thou then forget 

That on the banks of this delightful stream 

We stood together; and that I, so long 

A worshipper of Nature, hither came 

Unwearied in that service: rather say 

With warmer love — oh ! with far deeper zeal 

Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget, 

That after many wanderings, many years 

Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs. 

And this green pastoral landscape, were to me 

More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake ! 



1798 1800 

Observed, and with great benefit to my own heart, when I 
was a child : written at Racedown and Alfoxden in my twenty- 
third year. The poHtical economists were about that time 
beginning their war upon mendicity in all its forms, and by 
implication, if not directly, on alnis=gi:djig also. This heart- 
less process has been carried as far as it can go by the amfindf-d 
poor-law bill, though the inhumanity that prevails in this 
measure is somewhat disguised by the profession that one 
of its objects is to throw the poor upon the voluntary dona- 
tions of their neighbours; that is, if rightly interpreted, to 
force them into a condition between relief in the Union poor- 
house, and alms robbed of their Christian grace and spirit, 
as being forced rather from the benevolent than given by 
them; while the avaricious and selfish, and all in fact but the 
humane and charitable, are at liberty to keep all they possess 
from their distressed brethren. 

The class of Beggars, to which the Old Man here described 
belongs, will probably soon be extinct. It consisted of poor, 
and, mostly, old and infirm persons, who confined themselves 
to a stated round in their neighbourhood, and had certain 
fixed days, on which, at different houses, they regularly received 
alms, sometimes in money, but mostly in provisions. 

I SA W an _a ged_Beggar in m^ . walk ; 
And he was seated by the highway side. 
On a low structure of rude masonry 
f 92 1 


Built at the foot of a huge hill, that they 

Who lead their horses down the steep rough road 

May thence remount at ease. The aged Man 

Had placed his staff across the broad smooth stone 

That overlays the pile; and, from a bag 

All white with flour, the dole of village dames. 

He drew his scraps and fragments, one by one; 

And scanned them with a fixed and serious look 

Of idle computation. In the sun. 

Upon the second step of that small pile. 

Surrounded by those wild unpeopled hills. 

He sat, and ate his food in solitude: 

And ever, scattered from his palsied hand. 

That, still attempting to prevent the waste, 

Was baflfled still, the crumbs in little showers 

Fell on the ground; and the small mountain birds, 

Not venturing yet to peck their destined meal. 

Approached within the length of half his staff. 

Him from my childhood have I known; and then 
He was so old, he seems not older now; 
He travels on, a solitary Man, 
So helpless in appearance, that for him 
The sauntering Horseman throws not with a slack 
And careless hand his alms upon the ground. 
But stops, — that he may safely lodge the coin 
Within the old Man's hat; nor quits him so, 
[ 93 1 


But still, when he has given his horse the rein. 
Watches the aged Beggar with a look 
Sidelong, and half -re verted. She who tends 
The toll-gate, when in summer at her door 
She turns her wheel, if on the road she sees 
The aged Beggar coming, quits her work, 
And lifts the latch for him that he may pass. 
The post-boy, when his rattling wheels o'ertake 
The aged Beggar in the woody lane. 
Shouts to him from behind; and if, thus warned. 
The old man does not change his course, the boy 
Turns with less noisy wheels to the roadside. 
And passes gently by, without a curse 
Upon his lips, or anger at his heart. 

.H e travels on, a solitary Man ; 
His age has no companion. On the ground 
His eyes are turned, and, as he moves along 
They move along the ground; and, evermore. 
Instead of common and habitual sight 
Of fields with rural works, of hill and dale. 
And the blue sky, one little span of earth 
Is all his prospect. Thus, from day to day. 
Bow-bent, his eyes for ever on the ground. 
He plies his weary journey; seeing still. 
And seldom knowing that he sees, some straw. 
Some scattered leaf, or marks which, in one track, 
f 94 1 


The nails of cart or chariot-wheel have left 
Impressed on the white road, — in the same line. 
At distance still the same. Poor Traveller! 
His staff trails with him; scarcely do his feet 
Disturb the summer dust; he is so still 
In look and motion, that the cottage curs, 
Ere he has passed the door, will turn away. 
Weary of barking at him. Boys and girls, 
The vacant and the busy, maids and youths, 
And urchins newly breeched — all pass him by: 
Him even the slow-paced waggon leaves behind. 

B ut deem not this Man useless. — Statesmen! ye 
Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye 
Who have a broom still ready in your hands 
To rid the w^orld of nuisances; ye proud, 
Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate 
Your talents, power, or wisdom, deem him not 
A burthen of the earth! 'T is Nature's law 
That none, the meanest of created things, 
Or forms created the most vile and brute, 
The dullest or most noxious, should exist 
Divorced from good — a spirit and pulse of good, 
A life and soul, to every mode of being V 

Inseparably linked. Then be assured . — I 

That least of all can aught — that ever owned 
The heaven-regarding eye and front sublime 
f 95 1 



Which man is born to — sink, howe'er depressed. 

So low as to be scorned without a sin; 

Without offence to God cast out of view; 

Like the dry remnant of a garden-flower 

Whose seeds are shed, or as an implement 

Worn out and worthless. While from door to door. 

This old Man creeps, the villagers in him 

Behold a record which together binds 

Past deeds and offices of charity. 

Else unremembered, and so keeps alive 

The kindly mood in hearts which lapse of years. 

And that half-wisdom half-experience gives, 

Make slow to feel, and by sure steps resign 

To selfishness and cold oblivious cares. 

Among the farms and solitary huts, 

Hamlets and thinly-scattered villages. 

Where'er the aged Beggar takes his rounds. 

The mild necessity of use compels 

To acts of love; and habit does the work 

Of reason; yet prepares that after-jo^ 

Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul. 

By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursued. 

Doth find herself insensibly disposed 

To virtue and true goodness. 

Some there are, 
By their good works exalted, lofty minds 
1 96 1 


And meditative, authors of delight 
And happiness, which to the end of time 
Will live, and spread, and kindle: even such minds 
In childhood, from this solitary Being, 
Or from like wanderer, haply have received 
(A thing more precious far than all that books 
Or the solicitudes of love can do!) 
That first mild touch of sympathy and thought. 
In which they found their kindred with a world 
Where want and sorrow were. The easy man 
Who sits at his own door, — and, like the pear 
That overhangs his head from the green wall. 
Feeds in the sunshine; the robust and young. 
The prosperous and unthinking, they who live 
Sheltered, and flourish in a little grove 
Of their own kindred; — all behold in him 
A silent monitor, which on their minds 
Must needs impress a transitory thought 
Of self-congratulation, to the heart 
Of each recalling his peculiar boons, 
His charters and exemptions; and, perchance. 
Though he to no one give the fortitude 
And circumspection needful to preserve 
His present blessings, and to husband up 
The respite of the season, he, at least, 
'And 't is no vulgar service, makes them felt. 
f 97 1 


Yet further. Many, I believe, there are 

Who live a life of virtuous decency. 

Men who can hear the Decalogue and feel 

No self-reproach; who of the moral law 

Established in the land where they abide 

Are strict observers; and not negligent 

In acts of love to those with whom they dwell. 

Their kindred, and the children of their blood. 

Praise be to such, and to their slumbers peace! 

— But of the poor man ask, the abject poor; 
Go, and demand of him, if there be here 

In this cold abstinence from evil deeds, 

And these inevitable charities. 

Wherewith to satisfy the human soul.'^ 

No — man is dear to man ; the poorest poor 

Long for some moments in a weary life 

When they can know and feel that they have been. 

Themselves, the fathers and the dealers-out 

Of some small blessings; have been kind to such 

As needed kindness, for this single cause, 

That we have all of us one human heart. 

— Such pleasure is to one kind Being known, 

My neighbour, when with punctual care, each week 
Duly as Friday comes, though pressed herself 
By her own wants, she from her store of meal 
Takes one unsparing handful for the scrip 
f 98 1 


Of this old Mendicant, and, from her door 

Returning with exhilarated heart. 

Sit s by her fire, and builds her hope in heav en. . 

Then let him pass, a blessing on his head! 
And while in that vast solitude to which 
The tide of things has borne him, he appears 
To breathe and live but for himself alone, 
Unblamed, uninjured, let him bear about 
The good which the benignant law of Heaven 
Has hung around him: and, w hile life is his, 
Still let him prompt the unlettered villagers 
To t ender offices and pensive thoui'iits. 
— Then let him pass, a bks.Niiii; on his head! 
And, long as he can wander, let him breathe 
The freshness of the vallej^s; let his blood 
Struggle with frosty air and winter snows; 
And let the chartered wind that sweeps the heath 
Beat his grey locks against his withered face. 
Reverence the hope whose vital anxiousncss 
Gives the last human interest to his heart. 
May never House, misnamed of Industry, 
Make him a captive! — for that pent-up din, 
Those life-consuming sounds that clog the air, 
Be his the natural silence of old age! 
Let him be free of mountain solitudes; 
And have around him, whether heard or not, 
f 99 1 


The pleasant melody of woodland birds. 
Few are his pleasures: if his eyes have now 
Been doomed so long to settle upon earth 
That not without some effort they behold 
The countenance of the horizontal sun, 
Rising or setting, let the light at least 
Find a free entrance to their languid orbs. 
And let him, where and when he will, sit down 
Beneath the trees, or on a grassy bank 
Of highway side, and with the little birds 
Share his chance-gathered meal; and, finally, 
As in the eye of Nature he has lived, 
So in the eye of Nature let him die ! 

100 ] 


1798 1798 

The little hedgerow birds, 
That peck along the roads, regard him not. 
He travels on, and in his face, his step. 
His gait, is one expression: every limb. 
His look and bending figure, all bespeak 
A man who does not move with pain, but moves 
With thought. — He is insensibly subdued 
To settled quiet : he is one by whom 
All effort seems forgotten; one to whom 
Long patience hath such mild composure given. 
That patience now doth seem a thing of which 
He hath no need. He is by nature led 
To peace so perfect that the young behold 
With envy, what the Old Man hardly feels. 




What 's in a Name? 

Brutus will start a Spirit as soon as Csesar ! 

1798 1819 

Written at Alfoxden. Founded upon an anecdote, which 
I read in a newspaper, of an ass being found hanging his 
head over a canal in a wretched posture. Upon examina- 
tion a dead body was found in the water and proved to be 
the body of its master. The countenance, gait, and figure of 
Peter, were taken from a wild rover with whom I walked from 
Builth, on the river Wye, downwards nearly as far as the 
town of Hay. He told me strange stories. It has always been 
a pleasure to me through life to catch at every opportunity 
that has occurred in my rambles of becoming acquainted with 
this class of people. The number of Peter's wives was taken 
from the trespasses in this way of a lawless creature who lived 
in the county of Durham, and used to be attended by many 
women, sometimes not less than half a dozen, as disorderly as 
himself. Benoni, or the child of sorrow, I knew when I was a 
school-boy. His mother had been deserted by a gentleman in 
the neighbourhood, she herself being a gentlewoman by birth. 
The circumstances of her story were told me by my dear old 
Dame, Anne Tyson, who was her confidante. The Lady died 
broken-hearted. — In the woods of Alfoxden I used to take 
great delight in noticing the habits, tricks, and physiognomy 
of asses; and I have no doubt that I was thus put upon writ- 
ing the poem out of liking for the creature that is so often 

[ 1C2 ] 


dreadfully abused. — The crescent-moon, which makes such 
a figure in the prologue, assumed this character one evening 
while I was watching its beauty in front of Alfoxden House. 
I intended this poem for the volume before spoken of, but it 
was not published for more than twenty years afterwards. — 
The worship of the Methodists or Ranters is often heard during 
the stillness of the summer evening in the country with affect- 
ing accompaniments of rural beauty. In both the psalmody 
and the voice of the preacher there is, not unfrequently, 
much Solemnity likely to impress the feelings of the rudest 
characters under favourable circumstances. 



My dear Friend, 

The Tale of Peter Bell, which I now introduce to your no- 
tice, and to that of the Public, has, in its Manuscript state, 
nearly survived its minority: — for it first saw the light in the 
summer of 1798. Duriag this long interval, pains have been 
taken at different times to make the production less unworthy 
of a favourable reception; or, rather, to fit it for filling per- 
manently a station, however humble, in the Literature of our 
Country. This has, indeed, been the aim of all my endeavours 
in Poetry, which, you know, have been sufficiently laborious 
to prove that I deem the Art not lightly to be approached; 
and that the attainment of excellence in it may laudably be 
made the principal object of intellectual pursuit by any man, 
who, with reasonable consideration of circumstances, has 
faith in his own impulses. 

The Poem of Peter Bell, as the Prologue will show, was 
composed under a b elief that the Im a gination not onlv do es 

[ 103 1 


j[OJLreiQpikjeJfir_its ^ercisej;he inte of supernatural 

agency, but that, though such agency be excluded, the faculty 
may be called forth as imperiously and for kindred results of 
pleasure, by incidents, within the compass of poetic pro- 
bability, in the humblest departments of daily life. Since 
that Prologue was written, you have exhibited most splendid 
effects of judicious daring, in the opposite and usual course. 
Let this acknowledgment make my peace with the lovers of 
the supernatural; and I am persuaded it will be admitted, 
that to you, as a Master in that province of the Art, the fol- 
lowing Tale, whether from contrast or congruity, is not an 
unappropriate offering. Accept it, then, as a public testimony 
of affectionate admiration from one with whose name yours 
has been often coupled (to use your own words) for evil and 
for good; and believe me to be, with earnest wishes that life 
and health may be granted you to complete the many im- 
portant works in which you are engaged, and with high 

Most faithfully yours, 

William Wordsworth. 
Rydal Mount, Ajiril 7, 1819. 


There 's something in a flying horse. 
There's something in a huge balloon; 
But through the clouds I '11 never float 
Until I have a little Boat, 
Shaped like the crescent-moon. 

And now I have a little Boat, 
In shape a very crescent-moon; 
[ 104 ] 


Fast through the clouds my boat can sail; 
But if perchance your faith should fail, 
Look up — and you shall see me soon ! 

The woods, my Friends, are round you roaring, 
Rocking and roaring like a sea; 
The noise of danger 's in your ears, 
And ye have all a thousand fears 
Both for my little Boat and me ! 

Meanwhile untroubled I admire 
The pointed horns of my canoe; 
And, did not pity touch my breast, 
To see how ye are all distrest. 
Till my ribs ached, I 'd laugh at you ! 

Away we go, my Boat and I — 
Frail man ne'er sate in such another; 
Whether among the winds we strive. 
Or deep into the clouds we dive. 
Each is contented with the other. 

Away we go — and what care we 
For treasons, tumults, and for wars? 
We are as calm in our delight 
As is the crescent-moon so bright 
Among the scattered stars. 
[ lOo ] 


Up goes my Boat among the stars 
Through many a breathless field of light. 
Through many a long blue field of ether. 
Leaving ten thousand stars beneath her: 
Up goes my little Boat so bright! 

The Crab, the Scorpion, and the Bull — 
We pry among them all; have shot 
High o'er the red-haired race of Mars, 
Covered from top to toe with scars; 
Such company I like it not! 

The towns in Saturn are decayed. 

And melancholy Spectres throng them; — 

The Pleiads, that appear to kiss 

Each other in the vast abyss. 

With joy I sail among them. 

Swift Mercury resounds with mirth, 
Great Jove is full of stately bowers; 
But these, and all that they contain. 
What are they to that tiny grain. 
That little Earth of ours? 

l/^ Then back to Earth, t he dear greep Jlarth : 
Whole ages if I here should roam, 
[ 106 1 


The world for my remarks and me 
Would not a whit the better be; 
I 've left my heart at home. 

See! there she is, the matchless Earth! 
There spreads the famed Pacific Ocean! 
Old Andes thrusts yon craggy spear 
Through the grey clouds; the Alps are hercs 
Like waters in commotion! 

Yon tawny slip is Libya's sands; 
That silver thread the river Dnieper! 
And look, where clothed in brightest green 
Is a sweet Isle, of isles the Queen; 
Ye fairies, from all evil keep her! 

And see the town where I was born! 
Around those happy fields we span 
In boyish gambols; — I was lost 
Where I have been, but on this coast 
I feel I am a man. 

Never did fifty things at once 
Appear so lovely, never, never; — 
How tunefully the forests ring! 
To hear the earth's soft murmuring 
Thus could I hang for ever! 
[ 107 ] 


"Shame on you!" cried my little Boat, 
*' Was ever such a homesick Loon, 

Within a living Boat to sit, 

And make no better use of it; 

A Boat twin-sister of the crescent-moon! 

"Ne'er in the breast of full-grown Poet 
Fluttered so faint a heart before; — 
Was it the music of the spheres 
That overpowered your mortal ears? 
— Such din shall trouble them no more. 

"These nether precincts do not lack 
Charms of their own; — then come with me; 
I want a comrade, and for you 
There's nothing that I would not do; 
Nought is there that you shall not see. 

"Haste! and above Siberian snows 
We'll sport amid the boreal morning; 
Will mingle with her lustres gliding 
Among the stars, the stars now hiding. 
And now the stars adorning. 

"I know the secrets of a land 
Where human foot did never stray; 
[ 108 1 


Fair is that land as evening skies, 
And cool, though in the depth it Ues 
Of burning Africa. 

" Or we '11 into the realm of Faery, 
Among the lovely shades of things; 
The shadowy forms of mountains bare. 
And streams, and bowers, and ladies fair. 
The shades of palaces and kings! 

"Or, if you thirst with hardy zeal 
Less quiet regions to explore, 
Prompt voyage shall to you reveal 
How earth and heaven are taught to feel 
The might of magic lore!" 

"My little vagrant Form of Hght, 
My gay and beautiful Canoe, 
Well have you played your friendly part; 
As kindly take what from my heart 
Experience forces — then adieu ! 

"Temptation lurks among your w^ords; 
But, while these pleasures you 're pursuing 
Without impediment or let. 
No wonder if you quite forget 
What on the earth is doing. 
[ 109 ] 


"There was a time when all mankind 
Did listen with a faith sincere 
To tuneful tongues in mystery versed; 
Then Poets fearlessly rehearsed 
The wonders of a wild career. 

" Go — (but the world *s a sleepy world. 
And 't is, I fear, an age too late) 
Take with you some ambitious Youth! 
For, restless Wanderer! I, in truth. 
Am all unfit to be your mate. 

"Long have I loved what I behold. 
The night that calms, the day that cheers; 

I The common growth of mother-earth 
Suffices me — her tears^ \i^ r TTi j tfh- 
Her^umblest mirth and tears. 

"The dragon's wing, the magic ring, 
I shall not covet for my dower. 
If I along that lowly way 
With sympathetic heart may stray. 
And with a soul of power. 

''These given, what more nc<^d I desire 
To stir, to soothe, or elevate? 
[ 110] 


What nobler marvels than the mind 
May in life's daily prospect find. 
May find or there create? 

"A potent wand doth Sorrow wield; 
What spell so strong as guilty Fear! 
Repentance is a tender Sprite; 
If aught on earth have heavenly might, 
'T is lodged within her silent tear. 

" But grant my wishes, — let us now 
Descend from this ethereal height; 
Then take thy way, adventurous Skiff, 
More daring far than Hippogriff, 
And be thy own delight! 

"To the stone-table in my garden. 
Loved haunt of many a summer hour. 
The Squire is come : his daughter Bess 
Beside him in the cool recess 
Sits blooming like a flower. 

"With these are many more convened; 
They know not I have been so far; — 
I see them there, in number nine. 
Beneath the spreading Weymouth-pine ! 
I see them — there they are ! 

[Ill 1 



"There sits the Vicar and his Dame; 
And there my good friend, Stephen Otter; 
And, ere the light of evening fail. 
To them I must relate the Tale 
Of Peter Bell the Potter." 

Off flew the Boat — away she flees. 
Spurning her freight with indignation! 
And I as well as I was able, 
On two poor legs, toward my stone-table 
Limped on with sore vexation. 

"0, here he is!" cried little Bess — 
She saw me at the garden-door; 

"We 've waited anxiously and long," 
They cried, and all around me throng, 
Full nine of them or more ! 

" Reproach me not — your fears be still — 
Be thankful we again have met; — 
Resume, my Friends! within the shade 
Your seats, and quickly shall be paid 
The well-remembered debt." 


I spake with faltering voice, like one 
Not wholly rescued from the pale 
[ 112 1 



Of a wild dream, or worse illusion; 
But, straight, to cover my confusion. 
Began the promised Tale. 


All by the moonlight river side 
Groaned the poor Beast — alas! in vain; 
The staff was raised to loftier height. 
And the blows fell with heavier weight 
As Peter struck — and strug^'agjain. 

Hold!" cried the Squire, "against the rules ^ 
Of common sense you 're surely sinning; ^^^1^ 
This leap is for us all too bold; r^^^^^^ 

Who Peter was, let that be told. 
And start from the beginning." 

"A Potter,^ Sir, he w^as by trade," 

Said I, becoming quite collected; 
And wheresoever he appeared. 
Full twenty times was Peter feared 
For once tha t Peter was respected . 

'He, two-and-thirty years or more. 
Had been a wild and woodland rover; 
Had heard the Atlantic surges roar 
[ 113 1 


On farthest Cornwall's rocky shore, 
And trod the cliffs of Dover. 

"And he had seen Caernarvon's towers. 
And well he knew the spire of Sarum; 
And he had been where Lincoln bell 
Flings o'er the fen that ponderous knell — 
A far-renowned alarum! 

"At Doncaster, at York, and Leeds, 
And merry Carlisle had he been; 
And all along the Lowlands fair, 
All through the bonnie shire of Ayr 
And far as Aberdeen. 

"And he had been at Inverness; 
And Peter, by the mountain-rills. 
Had danced his round with Highland lasses; 
And he had lain beside his asses 
On lofty Cheviot Hills: 

"And he had trudged through Yorkshire dales. 
Among the rocks and winding scars; 
Where deep and low the hamlets lie 
Beneath their little patch of sky 
And little lot of stars: 

[ 114 ] 


"And all along the indented coast. 
Bespattered with the salt-sea foam; 
Where'er a knot of houses lay 
On headland, or in hollow bay; — 
Sure never man like him rlif| ^onm ! 

"As well might Peter, in the Fleet, 
Have been fast bound* a begging debtor; — 
He travelled here, he travelled there; — 
But not the value of a hair 
Was heart or head the better. 

"He roved among the vales and streams, 
In the green wood and hollow dell; 
They were his dwellings night and day, — 
But Nat ure ne'er could find the way 
Into the heart of Peter Bell. 

"In vain, through every changeful year, {^-^ 
Did Nature lead him as before; 
A primrose by the river's brim 
A yellow primrose was to him, 
And it was nothing more. 

"Small change it made on Peter's heart 
To see his gentle panniered train 
f 115 1 


With more than vernal pleasure feeding, 
Where'er the tender grass was leading 
Its earliest green along the lane. 

"In vain, through water, earth, and air. 
The soul of happy sound was spread, 
When Peter on some April morn, 
Beneath the broom or budding thorn. 
Made the warm earth his lazy bed. 

"At noon, when, by the forest's edge 
He lay beneath the branches high, 
The soft blue sky did never melt 
Into his heart; he never felt 

' The witchery of the soft blue sky! 

^"On a fair prospect some have looked 
And felt, as I have heard them say. 
As if the moving time had been 
A thing as steadfast as the scene 
On which they gazed themselves away. 

"Within the breast of Peter Bell 
These silent raptures found no place; 
He was a Carl as wild and rude 
As ever hue-and-cry pursued, 
As ever ran a felon's race, 
f 116 1 


'Of all that lead a lawless life, 
Of all that love their lawless lives. 
In city or in village small. 
He w^as the wildest far of alU — 
He had a dozen wedded wives. 9 ^ ' ^ 

" Nay, start not ! — wedded wives — and twelve ! 
But how one wife could e'er come near him. 
In simple truth I cannot tell; 
For, be it said of Peter Bell, 
To see him was to fear him. 

"Though Nature could not touch his heart 
By lovely forms, and silent weather, 
And tender sounds, yet you might see 
At once, that Peter Bell and she 
Had often been together. 

"A savage wildness round him hung 
As of a dweller out of doors; 
In his whole figure and his mien 
A savage character was seen 
Of mountains and of dreary moors. 

**To all the unshaped half-human thoughts 
Which solitary Nature feeds 
'Mid summer storms or winter's ice, 
[ 117 1 



Had Peter joined whatever vice 
The cruel city breeds. 

'*His face was keen as is the wind 
'That cuts along the hawthorn-fence; — = 
Of courage you saw Httle there, 
But, in its stead, a medley air 
Of cunning and of impudence. 

He had a dark and sidelong walk. 
And long and slouching was his gait; 
Beneath his looks so bare and bold, 
You might perceive, his spirit cold 
Was playing with some inward bait 

"His forehead wrinkled was and furred; 
A work, one half of which was done 
By thinking of his * whens ' and ' hows '; 
And half, by knitting of his brows 
Beneath the glaring sun. 

^^here was a hardness in his cheek, 
in his eye, 
fixed his face, 
open sky!" 

[ 118 ] 


One night, (and now my little Bess! 
We 've reached at last the promised Tale :) 
One beautiful November night, 
Y When the full moon was shining bright 
Upon the rapid river Swale, 

Along the river's winding banks 
Pet er was travelling all alon e ; — 
Whether to buy or sell, or led 
By pleasure running in his head. 
To me was never known. 

He trudged along through copse and brake. 
He trudged along o'er hill and dale; 
V Nor for the moon cared he a tittle, 

And for the stars he cared as little, "^ 

And for the murmuring river Swale. 

But, chancing to espy a path / / 

[That promised to cut short the way, ^U^^ fy^^ 

As many a wiser man hath done, 

jHe left a trusty guide for one 

IThat might his steps betray. 

To a thick wood he soon is brought 
Where cheerily his course he weaves, 
And whistling loud may yet be heard, 
[ 119 1 


Though often buried, like a bird 
Darkling, among the boughs and leaves. 

But quickly Peter's mood is changed, 
And on he drives with cheeks that burn 
In downright fury and in wrath; — 
There *s Uttle sign the treacherous path 
Will to the road return [ 

The path grows dim, and dimmer still; 

Now up, now down, the Rover wends. 
With all the sail that he can carry. 
Till brought to a deserted quarry — 
And there the pathway ends. 

He paused — for shadows of strange shape. 
Massy and black, before him lay; 
But through the dark, and through the cold, 
And through the yawning fissures old. 
Did Peter boldly press his way 

Right through the quarry; — and be hold 
A scene of soft and lovely hue! 
Where blue and grey, and tender green. 
Together make as sweet a scene 
As ever human eye did view. 
[ 120 ] 


Beneath the clear blue sky he saw 
A lit tle field of meadow groun fJ! 
But field or meadow name it not; 
Call it of earth a small green plot. 
With rocks encompassed round. 

The Swale flowed under the grey rocks. 
But he flowed quiet and unseen; — 
You need a strong and stormy gale 
To bring the noises of the Swale 
To that green spot, so calm and green! 

And is there no one dwelling here, 
No hermit with his beads and glass? 
And does no little cottage look 
Upon this soft and fertile nook? 
Does no one live near this green grass? 

Across the deep and quiet spot 
Is Peter driving through the grass — 
And now has reached the skirting trees; 
When, turning round his head, he see s 
A. solitary A ss. 

A prize!" cries Peter — but he first 
Must spy about him far and near: 
[ 121 ] 


There 's not a single house in sight, 
No woodman's hut, no cottage hght — 
Peter, you need not fear! 

There 's nothing to be seen but woods, 
And rocks that spread a hoary gleam, 
And this one Beast, that from the bed 
Of the green meadow hangs his head 
Over the silent stream. 

His head is with a halter bound; 
The halter seizing, Peter leapt 
Upon the Creature's back, and plied 
With ready heels his shaggy side; 
But still the Ass his station kept. 

Then Peter gave a sudden jerk, 
A jerk that from a dungeon-floor 
Would have pulled up an iron ring; 
But still the heavy-headed Thing 
Stood just as he had stood before! 

Quoth Peter, leaping from his seat, 
"There is some plot against me laid"; 
Once more the little meadow-ground 
And all the hoary cliffs around 
He cautiously surveyed. 
f 122 1 


All, all is silent — rocks and woods. 
All still and silent — far and near! 
Only the Ass, with motion dull. 
Upon the pivot of his skull 
Turns round his long left ear. 

Thought Peter, What can mean all this? 
Some ugly witchcraft must be here ! 
— Once more the Ass, with motion dull. 
Upon the pivot of his skull .] 

Turned round his long left ear. i^ 

Su spicion ripened intio dread j^ 
Yet with deliberate kction slow, 
His staff high-raising, in the pride 
Of skill, upon the sounding hide, 
He dealt a sturdy blow. , 

The poor Ass staggered with the shock; 
And then, as if to take his ease. 
In quiet uncomplaining mood. 
Upon the spot where he had stood. 
Dropped gently d own upon his kne es: 

As gently on his side he fell; 
And by the river's brink did lie; 
And, while he lay like one that mourned, 
[ 123 ] 


The patient Beast on Peter turned 
His shining hazel eye. 

'T was but one mild, reproachful look, 
A look more tender than severe; 
And straight in sorrow, not in dread, 
He turned the eye-ball in his head 
Towards the smooth river deep and clear. 

Upon the Beast the sapling rings; 

Plis lank sides heaved, his limbs they stirred; 

He gave a groan, and then another, 

Of that which went bef ore the br other. 

And then he gave a third. 

All by the moonlight river side 
He gave three miserable groans; 
And not till now hath Peter seen 
How gaunt the Creature is, — how lean 
\ And sharp his staring bones! 

With legs stretched out and stiff he lay : — 
No word of kind commiseration 
Fell at the sight from Peter's tongue; 
With hard contempt his heart was WTung, 
With hatred and vexation. 
[ 124 ] 


The meagre beast lay still as death; 
And Peter's lips with fury quiver; 
Quoth he, *' You little mulish dog, 
I '11 fling your carcase like a log 
Head -foremost down the river!" 

An impious oath confirmed the threat — 
Whereat from the earth on which he lay 
To all the echoes, south and north, 
And east and west, the Ass sent forth 
A long and clamorous bray! 

This outcry, on the heart of Peter, 
Seems like a note of joy to strike, — 
Joy at the heart of Peter knocks; 
But in the echo of the rocks ^ 

Was something Peter did not like. 

Whether to cheer his coward breast. 
Or that he could not break the chain. 
In this serene and solemn hour. 
Twined round him by demoniac power 
To the blind work he turned again. 

Among the rocks and winding crags; 
Among the mountains far away; 
[ 125 ] 


Once more the Ass did lengthen out 
More ruefully a deep-drawn shout, 
The hard dry see-saw of his horrible bray! 

What is there now in Peter's heart? 

Or whence the might of this strange sound? 

The moon uneasy looked and dimmer. 

The broad blue heavens appeared to g limmer. 

And the rocks staggered all around — 

From Peter's hand the sapling dropped! 

Threat has he none to execute; 

'If any one should come and see 

That I am here, they '11 think," quoth he, 

'I 'm helping this poor dying brute." 

He scans the Ass from limb to limb. 
And ventures now to uplift his eyes; 
More steady looks the moon, and clear. 
More like themselves the rocks appear 
And touch more quiet skies. 

His scorn returns — his hate revives; 
He stoops the Ass's neck to seize 
With malice — that again takes flight; 
For in the pool a startling sight 
Meets him, among the inverted trees. 

[ 126 ] ~ 


/ Is it the moon's distorted face? 

The ghost-like image of a cloud? J"^ 

Is it a gallows there portrayed? '^^^'^^^^(^t,^.^ 

Is Peter of himself afraid? 
Is it a coffin, — or a shroud? 

A grisly idol hewn in stone? 

Or imp from witch's lap let fall? 

Perhaps a ring of shining fairies? \ 

Such as pursue their feared vagaries 

In sylvan bower, or haunted hall? ^ 

Is it a fiend that to a stake 

Of fire his desperate self is tethering? 

Or stubborn spirit doomed to yell 

In solitary ward or cell. 

Ten thousand miles from all his brethren? 

Never did pulse so quickly throb, 
And never heart so loudly panted; 
He looks, he cannot choose but look; 
Like some one reading in a book — 
A book that is enchanted. 

Ah, well-a-day for Peter Bell! 
He will be turned to iron soon, 
f 127 ] 

V t-S < 


Meet Statue for the court of Fear! 
His hat is up — and every hair 
w Bristles, and whitens in the moon! 

He looks, he ponders, looks again; 
j He sees a motion — hears a groan; 

i^ His ej^es will burst — his heart will break - 
He gives a loud and frightful shriek, 
And back he falls, as if his life were flown! 


We left our Hero in a trance. 
Beneath the alders, near the river; 
The Ass is by the river-side, 
And, where the feeble breezes glide, 
/^ Upon the stream the moonbeams quiver. 

A happy respite! but at length 
y. He feels the glimmering of the moonL, 

Wakes with glazed eye, and feebly sighing ■ 
To sink, perhaps, where he is Ijdng, 
Into a second swoon! 

He lifts his head, he sees his staff; 
He touches — 't is to him a treasure! 
Faint recollection seems to tell 
[ 128 1 


That he is yet where mortals dwell — 
A thought received with languid pleasure! 

His head upon his elbow propped, 
Becoming less and less perplexed, 
Sky-ward he looks — to rock and wood — 
And then — upon the glassy flood 
His wandering eye is fixed. 

Thought he, that is the face of one 
In his last sleep securely bound! 
So toward the stream his head he bent, 
And downward thrust his staff, intent 
The river's depth to sound. 

No7v — like a tempest-shattered bark. 
That overwhelmed and prostrate lies. 
And in a moment to the verge 
Is lifted of a foaming surge — 
Full suddenlj^ the Ass doth rise! 

His staring bones all shake with joy. 
And close bj^ Peter's side he stands: 
While Peter o'er the river bends. 

The little Ass his neck extends, 

- ■ 

An d fondly licks his hands , 
f 129 1 


Such life is in the Ass's eyes. 
Such life is in his limbs and ears; 
That Peter Bell, if he had been 
The veriest coward ever seen, 
Must now have thrown aside his fears. 

The Ass looks on — and to his work 
Is Peter quietly resigned; 
He touches here — he touches there — • 
And now among the dead man's hair 
His sapling Peter has entwined. 

He pulls — and looks — and pulls again; 
And he w hom the poor Ass had lost. 
The man who had been four days dead, 
Head-foremost from the river's bed 
Uprises like a ghost! 

And Peter draws him to dry land; 
Anathrough the brain of Peter pass 
Some poignant twitches, fast and faster; 
'No doubt," quoth he, *'he is the Master 
Of this poor miserable Ass!'* 

The meagre Shadow that looks on — 
What would he now? what is he doing? 
f 130 1 


His sudden fit of joy is flown, — 
He on his knees hath laid him down, 
As if he were his grief renewing; 

But no — that Peter on his back 
Must mount, he shows well as he can: 
Thought Peter then, come weal or woe, 
I '11 do what he would have me do, 
In pity to this poor drowned man. 

With that resolve he boldly mounts 
Upon the pleased and thankful Ass; 
And then, without a moment's stay, 
That earnest Creature turned away 
Leaving the body on the grass. 

Intent upon his faithful watch. 
The Beast four days and nights had past; 
A sweeter meadow ne'er was seen, 
And there the Ass four days had been, 
Nor ever once did break his fast: 

Yet firm his step, and stout his heart; 
The mead is crossed — the quarry's mouth 
Is reached; but there the trusty guide 
Into a thicket turns aside. 
And deftly ambles towards the south, 
f 131 1 


When hark a burst ofdolefuLsaiuidj. 
And Peter honestly might say, 
The like came never to his ears, 
Though he has been, full thirty years, 
A rover — night and day.' 

'T is not a plover of the moors, 

'T is not a bittern of the fen; 

Nor can it be a barking fox. 

Nor night-bird chambered in the rocksp 

Nor wild-cat in a woody glen ! 

The Ass is startled — and stops short 
Right in the middfe of the thicket; 
x\nd Peter, wont to whistle loud 
Whether alone or in a crowd, 
Is silent as a silent cricket. 

What ails you now, my little Bess? 

^>^^*^ ^* Well may you tremble and look ^rave! 

/\X^^^^^ I This cry — that rings along the wood. 
This cry — that floats adown the floods 
Comes from the entrance of a cave: 

I see a blooming Wood-boy there. 
And if I had the power to say 
[ 132 ] 


How sorrowful the wanderer is, 
Your heart would be as sad as his 
Till you had kissed his tears away! 

Grasping a hawthorn branch in hand. 
All bright with berries ripe and red. 
Into the cavern's mouth he peeps; 
)^ThenceT)acl^ mto'the moonlight creeps; 
Whom seeks he — whom? — the silent dead: 

His father! — Him doth he require — 
Him hath he sought with fruitless pains, 
Among the rocks, behind the trees; 
Now creeping on his hands and knees. 
Now running o'er the open plains. 

And hither is he come at last. 

When he through such a day has gone. 

By this dark cave to be distrest 

Like a poor bird — her plundered nest 

Hovering around with dolorous moan! 

Of that intense and piercing cry 
The listening Ass conjectures well; 
Wild as it is, he there can read , 

Some intermingled notes that plead ^C^r?^ 
With touches irresistible. j 

[ 133~f . A,.W 


But Peter — when he saw the Ass 
Not only stop but turn, and change 
The cherished tenor of his pace 
That lamentable cry to chase — 
It wrought in him conviction strange; 

A faith that, for the dead man's sake 
And this poor slave who loved him wellj 
Vengeance upon his head will fall. 
Some visitation worse than all 
Which ever till this night befell. 

Meanwhile the Ass to reach his home, 
Is striving stoutly as he may; 
But, while he climbs the woody hill. 
The cry grows weak — and weaker still; 
AnSInow at last it dies awa^. 

So with his freight the Creature turns 
Into a gloomy grove of beech. 
Along the shade with footsteps true 
Descending slowly, till the two 
\ The open moonlight reach. 

And there, along the narrow dell, 
A fair smooth pathway you discern, 
[ 134 ] 


A length of green and open road — 
As if it from a fountain flowed — 
Winding away between the fern. 

The rocks that tower on either side 

Build up a wild fantastic scene; 

Temples like those among the Hindoos, 

And mosques, and spires, and abbey windows. 

And castles all with ivy green! 

And, while the Ass pursues his way. 

Along this solitary dell. 

As pensively his steps advance. 

The mosques and spires change count enance 

And look at Peter Bell! , ^^ 

That unintelligible cry 
Hath left him high in preparation, 
Convinced that he, or soon or late 
This very night will meet his fate — ^ 
And so he sits in exi>ectation ! 

The strenuous Animal hath clomb 
With the green path; and now he wends 
Where, shining like the smoothest sea. 
In undisturbed immensity 
A level plain extends. 
[ 135 1 


But whence this faintly -rustling sound 
By which the journeying pair are chased? 
— A withered leaf is close behind. 
Light plaything for the sportive wind 
Upon that solitary waste. 

When Peter spied the moving thing. 
It only doubled his distress; 
Where there is not a bush or tree, 
l^f)fihi^^^y I The very leaves they follow me — 

So huge hath been my wickedness!" 

To a close lane they now are come. 
Where, as before, the enduring Ass 
Moves on without a moment's stop. 
Nor once turns round his head to crop 
A bramble-leaf or blade of grass. 

Between the hedges as they go. 
The white dust sleeps upon the lane; 
And Peter, ever and anon 
Back-looking, sees, upon a stone. 
Or in the dust, a crimson stain. 


A stain — as of a drop of blood 
By moonlight made more faint and wan; 
^ [ 136 1 


Ha! why these sinkings of despair? 

He knows not how the blood comes there 

And Peter is a wicked man. 

At length he spies a bleeding wound, 
Where he had struck the Ass's head; 
He sees the blood, knows what it is, — 
A glimpse of sudden joy was his. 
But then it quickly fled; 

Of him whom sudden death had seized 
He thought, — of thee, O faithful..xissl- 
And once again those ghastly pains. 
Shoot to and fro through heart and reins. 
And through his brain like lightning pass. 


I 'vE heard of one, a gentle Soul, 
Though given to sadness and to gloom. 
And for the fact will vouch, — one night 
It chanced that by a taper's light 
This man was reading in his room; 

Bending, as you or I might bend 
At night o'er any pious book. 
When sudden blackness overspread 

[ 137 ] 


The snow-white page on which he read, 
And made the good man round him look. 

The chamber walls were dark all round, - 
And to his book he turned again; 

— The light had left the lonely taper. 
And formed itself upon the paper 
Into large letters — bright and plain ! 

The godly book was in his hand — 
And, on the page, more black than coal. 
Appeared, set forth in strange array, 
A word — which to his dying day 
Perplexed the good man's gentle soul. 

The ghostly word, thus plainly seen, 
Did never from his lips depart; 
But he hath said, poor gentle wight! 
It brought full many a sin to light 
Out of the bottom of his heart. 

Dread Spirits! to confound the meek 
Why wander from your course so far. 
Disordering colour, form, and stature ! 

— Let good men feel the soul of nature. 
And see things as they are. 

^^ ^ [ 138 1 



Yet, potent Spirits! well I know, 
How ye, that play with soul and sense. 
Are not unused to trouble friends 
Of goodness, for most gracious ends — 
And this I speak in reverence! 

But might I give advice to you, 
Whom in my fear I love so well; 
From men of pensive virtue go. 
Dread Beings! and your empire show 
On hearts like that of Peter Bell. 

Your presence often have I felt 

In darkness and the stormy night; 

And, with like force, if need there be, , 

Ye can put forth your agency 

When earth is calm, and heaven is bright. 

Then, coming from the wayward w^orl 
That powerful world in which ye dwell. 
Come, Spirits of the Mind ! and try 
To-night, beneath the moonlight sky. 
What may be done witlT Peter Bell ! 

— O, would that some more skilful voice 
My further labour might prevent ! 
f 139 1 


Kind Listeners, that around me sit, 
I feel that I am all unfit 
For such high argument. 

I've played, I've danced, with my narration; 

I loitered long ere I began: 

Ye waited then on my good pleasure; 

Pour out indulgence still, in measure 

As liberal as ye can ! 

Our Travellers, ye remember well, 
Are thriddiiig a sequestered lane; 
And Peter many tricks is trying, 
And many anodynes applying, 
To ease his conscience of its pain. 

By this his heart is lighter far; 
And, finding that he can account 
So snugly for that crimson stain, 
His evil spirit up again 
Does like an empty bucket mount. 

And Peter is a deep logician 
/* Who hath no lack of wit mercurial; 
^ P Blood drops — leaves rustle — yet," quoth he, 
j;0'^Y*This poor man never, but for me, 
Could have had Christian burial. 
[ 140 ] 


*And, say the best you can, 't is plain, 
That here has been some wicked deahng; 
No doubt the devil in me wrought; 
I *m not the man who could have thought I 
An Ass like this was worth the stealing!" I 

So from his pocket Peter takes 
His shining horn tobacco-box; 
And, in a light and careless way. 
As men who with their purpose play. 
Upon the lid he knocks. 

Let them whose voice can stop the clouds. 

Whose cunning eye can see the wind. 

Tell to a curious world the cause 

Why, making here a sudden pause, -. ^ 

The Ass tur ned round his head, an d g rinnecL 

Appalling process! I have marked 
The like on heath, in lonely wood; 
And, verily, have seldom met 
A spectacle more hideous — yet 
It suited Peter's present mood. 

And, grinning in his turn, his teeth 
He in jocose defiance showed — 
f 141 1 


When, to upset his spiteful mirth, 
A murmur, pent within the earth. 
In the dead earth beneath the road 

Rolled audibly ! it swept along, 
A muffled noise — a rumbling sound ! — 
''T was by a troop of miners made. 
Plying with gunpowder their trade. 
Some twenty fathoms under ground. 

Small cause of dire effect ! for, surely. 
If ever mortal. King or Cotter, 
Believed that earth was charged to quake 
And yawn for his unworthy sake, 
'T was Peter Bell the Potter. 

But, as an oak in breathless air 

Will stand though to the centre hewn; 

Or as the weakest things, if frost 

Have stiffened them, maintain their post; 

So he, beneath the gazing moon! — 

The Beast bestriding thus, he reached 
A spot where, in a sheltering cove, 
A little chapel st ands alone , 
J With greenest ivy overgrown. 
And tufted with an ivy grove ; 
[ 142 1 


Dying insensibly away 

From human thoughts and purposes, 

It seemed — wall, window, roof and tower 

To bow to some transforming power, 

And blend with the surrounding trees. 

As ruinous a place it was. 

Thought Peter, in the shire of Fife 

That served my turn, when following still 

From land to land a reckless will 

I married my sixth wife! 

The unheeding Ass moves slowly on. 
And now is passing by an inn 
Brim-full of a carousing crew. 
That make, with curses not a few, 
An uproar and a drunken din. 

I cannot well express the thoughts 
Which Peter in those noises found; — 
A stifling power compressed his frame, 
While-as a swimming darkness came 
Over that dull and dreary sound. 

For well did Peter know the sound; 
The language of those drunken joys 
To him, a jovial soul, I ween, 
[ 143 1 

Jf \»>^ <-*" 


But a few hours ago, had been 
A gladsome and a welcome noise. 

Now, turned adrift into the past, 
He finds no solac ejn his course - 
Like planet-stricken men of yore. 
He trembles, smitten to the cojc^ 

By strong compunction and remorse. 

'"'' — II — — ■ 

But, more than all, his heart is stung 
To think of one, almost a child; 
A sweet and playful Highland girl, 
As light and beauteous as a squirrel. 
As beauteous and as wild! 

Her dwelling was a lonely house, 
A cottage in a heathy dell; 
And she put on her gown of green. 
And left her mother at sixteen, 
And followed Peter Bell. 

But many good and pious thoughts 
Had she; and, in the kirk to pray. 
Two long Scotch miles, through rain or snow 
To kirk she had been used to go, 
Tw^ice every Sabbath-day. 
[ 144 ] 


And, when she followed Peter Bell, 
It was to lead an honest life; 
For he, with tongue not used to falter. 
Had pledged his troth before the altar 
To love her as his wedded wife. 

A mother's hope is hers; — but soon 
She drooped and pined like one forlorn. 
From Scripture she a name did borrow; 
Benoni, or the child of sorrow. 
She called her babe unborn. 

For she had learned how Peter lived. 
And took it in most grievous part; 
She to the very bone was worn, 
And, ere that little child was born. 
Died of a broken heart. 

And now the Spirits of the Mind 

Are busy with poor Peter Bell; 
Upon the rights of visual sense 
Usurping, with a prevalence 
More terrible than magic spell. 

Close by a brake of flowering furze 
(Above it shivering aspens play) 
f 145 1 


He sees an unsubstantial creature. 

His very self in form and feature, 

Not four yards from the broad highway : 

And stretched beneath the furze he sees 
The Highland girl — it is no other; 
And hears her crying as she cried, 
The very moment that she died. 
My mother! oh my mother!" 

The sweat pours down from Peter's face. 
So grievous is his heart's contrition; 
With agony his eye-balls ache. 
While he beholds by the furze-brake 
This miserable vision! 

Calm is the well-deserving brute, 
His peace hath no offence betrayed; 
But now, while down that slope he wends, 
A voice to Peter's ear ascends. 
Resounding from the woody glade : 

The voice, though clamorous as a horn 
Re-echoed by a naked rock. 
Comes from that tabernacle — List ! 
Within, a fervent Methodist 

Is preachin g to no heedless flock! 
[ 146 1 



Repent! repent!" he cries aloud, 
r While yet ye may find mercy; — strive 
[ To love the Lord with all your might; 
I Turn to him, seek him day and night, 
yAnd save your souls alive! 

"Repent! repent! though ye have gone. 
Through paths of wickedness and woe. 
After the Babylonian harlot; 
And, though your sins be red as scarlet. 
They shall be white as snow!" 

Even as he passed the door, these words 
Did plainly come to Peter's ears; 
And they such joyful tidings were. 
The joy was more than he could bear! — 
He gielted into tears . ^^ 

Sweet tears of hope and tenderness! 
And fast they fell, a plenteous shower! 
His nerves, his sinews seemed to melt; 
Through all his iron frame was felt 
A gentle, a relaxing, power! 


Each fibre of his frame was weak; 
Weak all the animal within; | \sn^ 

But, in its helplessness, grew mild 
I 147 ] 



I And gentle as an infant child, 
An infant that has known no sin. 

'T is said, meek Beast! that, through Heav- 
en's grace, 
y ^ He not unmoved did notice now 

y-^ The cross upon thy shoulder scored, 

^ For lasting impress, by the Lord 

(y^ To whom all human-kind shall bow; 

Memorial of his touch - that day 
When Jesus humbly deigned to ride, 
Entering the proud Jerusalem, 
By an immeasurable stream 
Of shouting people deified! 

Meanwhile the persevering Ass 
Turned towards a gate that hung in view 
Across a shady lane; his chest 
Against the yielding gate he pressed 
And quietly passed through. 

And up the stony lane he goes; 
No ghost more softly ever trod; 
Among the stones and pebbles, he 
Sets down his hoofs inaudibly. 
As if with felt his hoofs were shod. 
[ 148 ] 


Along the lane the trusty Ass 
Went twice two hundred yards or more, i 
And no one could have guessed his aim, — j 
Till to a lonely house he cam e, I 

And stopped beside the dgpr. 

Thought Peter, 't is the poor man's home! 
He listens — not a sound is heard 
Save from the trickhng household rill; 
But, stepping o'er the cottage-sill. 
Forthwith a little Girl appeared. 

She to the Meeting-house was bound 
In hopes some tidings there to gather: 
No glimpse it is, no doubtful gleam; 
She saw — and uttered with a scream, 
'' My fatEer! Tiere^s my Tathef ! " 

The very word was plainly heard. 
Heard plainly by the wretched Mother 
Her joy was like a deep affright : 
And forth she rushed into the light. 
And saw it was another! 

And, instantly, upon the earth. 
Beneath the full m oon shining b right. 
Close to the Ass's feet she fell; 
[ 149 ] 


At the same moment Peter Bell 
Dismounts in most unhappy pKght. 

As he beheld the Woman lie 
Breathless and motionless, the mind 
Of Peter sadly was confused; 
But, though to such demands unused. 
And helpless almost as the blind, 

He raised her up; and, while he held 
Her body propped against his knee, 
The Woman waked — and when she spied 
The poor Ass standing by her side, 
She moaned most bitterly. 

'Oh! God be praised — my heart's at ease- 
For he is dead — I know it well!" 
— At this she wept a bitter flood; 
And, in the best way that he could, 
His tale did Peter tell. 

He trembles — he is pale as death; 
His voice is weak with perturbation; 
He turns aside his head, he pauses; 
Poor Peter, from a thousand causes. 
Is crippled sore in his narration. 
[ 150 1 


At length she learned how he espied 
The Ass in that small meadow-ground; 
And that her Husband now lay dead. 
Beside that luckless river's bed 
In which he had been drowned. 

A piercing look the Widow cast 
Upon the Beast that near her stands; 
She sees 't is he, that 't is the same; 
She calls the poor Ass by his name. 
And wrings, and wrings her hands. 

'' O wretched loss — untimely stroke ! 
If he had died upon his bed! 
He knew not one forewarning pain; 
He never will come home again — 
Is dead, for ever dead!" 

Beside the woman Peter stands; 
His heart is opening more and more; 
A holy sense pervades his mind; 
He feels what he for human kind 
^Had never felt before. y^ 

At length, by Peter's arm sustained, 
The Woman rises from the ground — 
[ 151 ] 



"Ob, mercy! something must be done. 
My little Rachel, you must run, — 
Some willing neighbour must be found. 

" Make haste — my little Rachel — do. 
The first you meet with — bid him come. 
Ask him to lend his horse to-night. 
And this good Man, whom Heaven requite. 
Will help to bring the body home." 

Away goes Rachel weeping loud; — 
An Infant, waked by her distress. 
Makes in the house a piteous cry; 
And Peter hears the Mother sigh, 
"Seven are they, and all fatherless I" 


And now is Peter taught to feel 
That man's heart is a holy thing; 
And Nature, through a world of death. 
Breathes into him a second breath, 
More searching than the breath of spring. 

Upon a stone the Woman sits 
In agony of silent grief — 
From his own thoughts did Peter start; 
He longs to press her to his heart, 
From love that cannot find relief. 
[ 152 ] 


But roused, as if through every Hmb 
Had past a sudden shock of dread, 
The Mother o'er the threshold flies, 
And up the cottage stairs she hies, 
And on the pillow lays her burning head. 

And Peter turns his steps aside 
Into a shade of darksome trees, ^ 

Where he sits down, he knows not how, > 
With his hands pressed against his brow. 
His elbows on his tremulous knees. 

There, self-involved, does Peter sit 
Until no sign of life he makes. 
As if his mind were sinking deep 
Through years that have been long asleep; 
The trance is passed away — he wakes; 

He lifts his head — and sees the Ass 
Yet standing in the clear moonshine; 
"When shall I be as good as thou? 
I Oh ! would, poor beast, that I had now 
\A heart but half as good as thine!" 

But He — who deviously hath sought 
His Father through the lonesome woods, 
Hath sought, proclaiming to the ear 
[ 153 ] 


Of night his grief and sorrowful fear — 
He comes, escaped from fields and floods; 

With weary pace is drawing nigh; 
He sees the Ass — and nothing living 
Had ever such a fit of joy 
As hath this little orphan Boy, 
For he has no misgiving! 

Forth to the gentle Ass he springs. 
And up about his neck he climbs; 
In loving words he talks to him, 
He kisses, kisses face and limb, — 
He kisses him a thousand times f 

This Peter sees, while in the shade 
He stood beside the cottage-door; 
.And Peter Bell, the ruflSan wild, 
f Sobs loud, he sobs even like a child, 
VO God! I can endure no more!" 

— Here ends my Tale : for in a trice 
Arrived a neighbour with his horse; 
Peter went forth with him straightway; 
And, with due care, ere break of day, 
Together they brought back the Corse. 
[ 154 ] 


And many years did this poor Ass, "^ 
Whom once it was my luck to see 
Cropping the shrubs of Leming-Lane, \ 
Help by his labour to maintain 
The Widow and her family. 

And Peter Bell, who, till that night. 
Had been the wildest of his clan. 
Forsook his crimes, renounced his folly. 
And, after ten months' melancholy, 
Became a good and honest man, ^^^ 


1799 1845 

Brook and road 

Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy Pass, 
And with them did we journey several hours 
At a slow step. The immeasurable height 
Of woods decaying, never to be decayed. 
The stationary blasts of waterfalls, 
I And in the narrow rent, at every turn. 
Winds thwarting winds bewildered and forlorn, 
The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky. 
The rocks that muttered close upon our ears. 
Black drizzling crags that spake by the wayside 
As if a voice were in them, the sick sight 
And giddy prospect of the raving stream. 
The unfettered clouds and region of the heavens. 
Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light — 
Were all like workings of one mind, the features 
Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree. 
Characters of the great Apocalypse, 
The types and symbols of Eternity, 
Of first, and last, and midst, and without end. 

[ 156 ] 



1799 1809 

Written in Germany. This Extract is reprinted from The 

Wisdom and Spirit of the universe! 

Thou Soul, that art the Eternity of thought ! 

And giv'st to forms and images a breath 

And everlasting motion! not in vain, 

By day or star-light, thus from my first dawn 

Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me 

The passions that build up our human soul; 

Not with the mean and vulgar works of Man; 

But with high objects, with enduring things. 

With life and nature; purifying thus 

The elements of feeling and of thought, 

And sanctifying by such discipline 

Both pain and fear, — until we recognise 

A grandeur in the beatings of the heart. 

Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me 
With stinted kindness. In November days. 
When vapours rolling down the valleys made 
[ 157] 


A lonely scene more lonesome; among woods 
At noon; and 'mid the calm of summer nights, 
When, by the margin of the trembling lake. 
Beneath the gloomy hills, homeward I went 
In solitude, such intercourse was mine: 
Mine was it in the fields both day and night, 
And by the waters, all the summer long. 
And in the frosty season, when the sun 
Was set, and, visible for many a mile. 
The cottage-windows through the twilight blazed, 
I heeded not the summons: happy time 
It was indeed for all of us; for me 
It was a time of rapture! Clear and loud 
The village-clock tolled six — I wheeled about. 
Proud and exulting like an untired horse 
That cares not for his home. — All shod with steel 
We hissed along the polished ice, in games 
Confederate, imitative of the chase 
And woodland pleasures, — the resounding horn. 
The pack loud-chiming, and the hunted hare. 
So through the darkness and the cold we flew. 
And not a voice was idle: with the din 
Smitten, the precipices rang aloud; 
The leafless trees and every icy crag 
Tinkled like iron; while far-distant hills 
Into the tumult sent an alien sound 
[ 158 1 


Of melancholy, not unnoticed while the stcars, 
Eastward, were sparkling clear, and in the west 
The orange sky of evening died away. 

Not seldom from the uproar I retired 
Into a silent bay, or sportively 
Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng, 
To cut across the reflex of a star; 
Image, that, flying still before me, gleamed 
Upon the glassy plain : and oftentimes. 
When we had given our bodies to the wind, 
And all the shadowy banks on either side 
Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still 
The rapid line of motion, then at once 
Have I, reclining back upon my heels. 
Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs 
Wheeled by me — even as if the earth had rolled 
With visible motion her diurnal round! 
Behind me did they stretch in solemn train, 
Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched 
Till all was tranquil as a summer sea. 

159 ] 


1799 1800 

Written in Germany. This is an extract from the poem on 
my own poetical education. This practice of making an in- 
strument of their own fingers is known to most boys, though 
some are more skilful at it than others. William Raincock of 
Rayrigg, a fine spirited lad, took the lead of all my schoolfel- 
lows in this art. 

There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs 
And islands of Winander ! — many a time, 
At evening, when the earliest stars began 
To move along the edges of the hills, 
Rising or setting, would he stand alone. 
Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake; 
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands 
Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth 
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument. 
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls. 
That they might answer him. — And they would shout 
Across the watery vale, and shout again. 
Responsive to his call, — with quivering peals. 
And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud 
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild 
Of jocund din ! And, when there came a pause 
[ 160] 


Of silence such as baffled his best skill: 

Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung 

Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise 

Has carried far into his heart the voice 

Of mountain-torrents; or the visible scene 

Would enter unawares into his mind 

With all its solemn imagery, its rocks, 

Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received 

Into the bosom of the steady lake. 

This boy was taken from his mates, and died 
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old. 
Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale 
Where he was born and bred : the church-yard hangs 
Upon a slope above the village-school; 
And, through that church-yard when my way has led 
On summer-evenings, I believe, that there 
A long half-hour together I have stood 
Mute — looking at the grave in which he lies ! 

[ 161 


1799 1800 

Written in Germany; intended as part of a poem on my 
own life, but struck out as not being wanted there. Like most 
of my schoolfellows I was an impassioned nutter. For this 
pleasure, the vale of Esthwaite, abounding in coppice-wood, 
furnished a very wide range. These verses arose out of the 
remembrance of feelings I had often had when a boy, and 
particularly in the extensive woods that still stretch from the 
side of Esthwaite Lake towards Graythwaite, the seat of the 
ancient family of Sandys. 

It seems a day 

(I speak of one from many singled out) 
One of those heavenly days that cannot die; 
When, in the eagerness of boyish hope, 
I left our cottage-threshold, sallying forth 
With a huge wallet o'er my shoulders slung, 
A nutting-crook in hand; and turned my steps 
Tow'rd some far-distant wood, a Figure quaint. 
Tricked out in proud disguise of cast-off weeds 
Which for that service had been husbanded, 
By exhortation of my frugal Dame — 
Motley accoutrement, of power to smile 
At thorns, and brakes, and brambles, — and, in truth. 
More ragged than need was! O'er pathless rocks, 
[ 1G2 ] 


Through beds of matted fern, and tangled thickets. 
Forcing my way, I came to one dear nook 
Unvisited, where not a broken bough 
Drooped with its withered leaves, ungracious sign 
Of devastation; but the hazels rose 
Tall and erect, with tempting clusters hung, 
A virgin scene! — A little while I stood. 
Breathing with such suppression of the heart 
As joy delights in; and, with wise restraint 
Voluptuous, fearless of a rival, eyed 
The banquet; — or beneath the trees. I sate 
Among the flowers, and with the flowers I played; 
A temper known to those, who, after long 
And weary expectation, have been blest 
With sudden happiness beyond all hope. 
Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves 
The violets of five seasons re-appear 
And fade, unseen by any human eye; 
Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on 
For ever; and I saw the sparkling foam, 
And — with my cheek on one of those green stones 
That, fleeced with moss, under the shady trees. 
Lay round me, scattered like a flock of sheep — 
I heard the murmur and the murmuring sound, 
In that sweet mood when pleasure loves to pay 
Tribute to ease; and, of its joy secure, 
[ 163 ] 


The heart luxuriates with indifferent things, 
Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones, 
And on the vacant air. Then up I rose, 
And dragged to earth both branch and bough, with 

And merciless ravage: and the shady nook 
Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower. 
Deformed and sullied, patiently gave up 
Their quiet being: and, unless I now 
Confound my present feelings with the past; 
Ere from the mutilated bower I turned 
Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings, 
I felt a sense of pain when I beheld 
The silent trees, and saw the intruding sky — 
Then, dearest Maiden, move along these shades 
In gentleness of heart; with gentle hand 
Touch — for there is a spirit in the woods. 



1799 1800 

Written in Germany. 

Strange fits of passion have I known: 
And I will dare to tell, 
But in the Lover's ear alone, 
What once to me befell. 

When she I loved looked every day 
Fresh as a rose in June, 
I to her cottage bent my way, 
Beneath an evening-moon. 

Upon the moon I fixed my eye, 

All over the wide lea; 

With quickening pace my horse drew nigh 

Those paths so dear to me. 

And now we reached the orchard-plot; 
And, as we climbed the hill. 
The sinking moon to Lucy's cot 
Came near, and nearer still. 
[ 165 1 


In one of those sweet dreams I slept, 
Kind Nature's gentlest boon! 
And all the while my eyes I kept 
On the descending moon. 

My horse moved on; hoof after hoof 
He raised, and never stopped: 
When down behind the cottage roof. 
At once, the bright moon dropped. 

What fond and wayward thoughts will slide 

Into a Lover's head! 
"O mercy!" to myself I cried, 
"If Lucy should be dead!" 



1799 1800 
Written in Germany. 

She dwelt among the untrodden ways 

Beside the springs of Dove, 
A Maid whom there were none to praise 

And very few to love: 

A violet by a mossy stone 

Half hidden from the eye! 
— Fair as a star, when only one 

Is shining in the sky. 

She lived unknown, and few could know 

When Lucy ceased to be; 
But she is in her grave, and, oh, 

The difference to me! 



1799 1807 
Written in Germany. 

I TRAVELLED among unknown men. 

In lands beyond the sea; 
Nor, England! did I know till then 

What love I bore to thee. 

'T is past, that melancholy dream! 

Nor will I quit thy shore 
A second time; for still I seem 

To love thee more and more. 

Among thy mountains did I feel 

The joy of my desire; 
And she I cherished turned her wheel 

Beside an English fire. 

Thy mornings showed, thy nights concealed 
The bowsers where Lucy played; 

And thine too is the last green field 
That Lucy's eyes surveyed. 
[ 168 ] 


1799 1800 

Composed in the Hartz Forest. 

Three years she grew in sun and shower. 

Then Nature said, "A lovelier flower 

On earth was never sown; 

This Child I to myself will take; 

She shall be mine, and I will make 

A Lady of my own. 

" Myself will to my darling be 
Both law and impulse: and with me 
The Girl, in rock and plain, 
In earth and heaven, in glade and bower, 
Shall feel an overseeing power 
To kindle or restrain. 

"She shall be sportive as the fawn 
That wild with glee across the lawn, 
Or up the mountain springs; 
And hers shall be the breathing balm. 
And hers the silence and the calm 
Of mute insensate things. 
[ 169 1 


"The floating clouds their state shall lend 
To her; for her the willow bend; 
Nor shall she fail to see 
Even in the motions of the Storm 
Grace that shall mould the Maiden's form 
By silent sympathy. 

"The stars of midnight shall be dear 
To her; and she shall lean her ear 
In many a secret place 
Where rivulets dance their wayward round. 
And beauty born of murmuring sound 
Shall pass into her face. 

"And vital feelings of delight 
Shall rear her form to stately height, 
Her virgin bosom swell; 
Such thoughts to Lucy I will give 
While she and I together live 
Here in this happy dell." 

Thus Nature spake — The work was done - 

How soon my Lucy's race was run.' 

She died, and left to me 

This heath, this calm, and quiet scene; 

The memory of what has been. 

And never more will be. 

[ no i 


1799 1800 
Written in Germany. 

A SLUMBER did my spirit seal; 

I had no human fears: 
She seemed a thing that could not feel 

The touch of earthly years. 

No motion has she now, no force; 

She neither hears nor sees; 
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course. 

With rocks, and stones, and trees. 



1799 1800 

Art thou a Statist in the van 
Of public conflicts trained and bred? 
— First learn to love one living man; 
Then may'st thou think upon the dead. 

A Lawyer art thou? — draw not nigh! 
Go, carry to some fitter place 
The keenness of that practised eye, 
The hardness of that sallow face. 

Art thou a Man of purple cheer? 
A rosy Man, right plump to see? 
Approach; yet. Doctor, not too near. 
This grave no cushion is for thee. 

Or art thou one of gallant pride, 
A Soldier and no man of chaff? 
Welcome ! — but lay thy sword aside. 
And lean upon a peasant's staff. 

Physician art thou? one, all eyes, 
Philosopher! a fingering slave, 
[ 172 ] 


One that would peep and botanise 
'^Upon his mother's grave? 

Wrapt closely in thy sensual fleece, 
O turn aside, — and take, I pray, 
That he below may rest in peace, 
Thy ever-dwindling soul, away! 

A Moralist perchance appears; 
Led, Heaven knows how! to this poor sod: 
And he has neither eyes nor ears; 
Himself his world, and his own God; 

One to whose smooth-rubbed soul can cling 
Nor form, nor feeling, great or small; 
A reasoning, self-suflScing thing. 
An intellectual All-in-all! 

Shut close the door; press down the latch; 
Sleep in thy intellectual crust; 
Nor lose ten tickings of thy watch 
Near this unprofitable dust. 

But who is He, with modest looks. 
And clad in homely russet brown? 
He murmurs near the running brooks 
A music sweeter than their own. 
[ 173 ] 


He is retired as noontide dew. 
Or fountain in a noon-day grove; 
And you must love him, ere to you 
He will seem worthy of your love. 

The outward shows of sky and earth, 
Of hill and valley, he has viewed; 
And impulses of deeper birth 
Have come to him in solitude. 

In common things that round us lie 
Some random truths he can impart, — 
The harvest of a quiet eye 
That broods and sleeps on his own heart. 

But he is weak; both Man and Boy, 
Hath been an idler in the land; 
Contented if he might enjoy 
The things which others understand. 

— Come hither in thy hour of strength; 
Come, weak as is a breaking wave! 
Here stretch thy body at full length; 
Or build thy house upon this grave. 

[ 1T4 ] 


1799 1845 

Composed at Goslar, in Germany. 

I COME, ye little noisy Crew, 

Not long your pastime to prevent; 

I heard the blessing which to you 

Our common Friend and Father sent. 

I kissed his cheek before he died; 

And when his breath was fled, 

I raised, while kneeling by his side. 

His hand : — it dropped like lead. 

Your hands, dear Little-ones, do all 

That can be done, will never fall 

Like his till they are dead. 

By night or day blow four or fair. 

Ne'er will the best of all your train 

Play with the locks of his white hair, 

Or stand between his knees again. 

Here did he sit confined for hours; 
But he could see the woods and plains. 
Could hear the wind and mark the showers 
[ 175 ] 


Come streaming down the streaming panes. 

Now stretched beneath his grass-green mound 

He rests a prisoner of the ground. 

He loved the breathing air, 

He loved the sun, but if it rise 

Or set, to him where now he lies, 

Brings not a moment's care. 

Alas! what idle words; but take 

The Dirge which for our Master's sake 

And yours, love prompted me to make. 

The rhymes so homely in attire 

With learned ears may ill agree. 

But chanted by your Orphan Quire 

Will make a touching melody. 

Mourn, Shepherd, near thy old grey stone; 
Thou Angler, by the silent flood; 
And mourn when thou art all alone, 
Thou Woodman, in the distant wood! 

Thou one blind Sailor, rich in joy 
Though blind, thy tunes in sadness hum; 
And mourn, thou poor half-witted Boy! 
Born deaf, and living deaf and dumb. 
[ 176] 


Thou drooping sick Man, bless the Guide 
Who checked or turned thy headstrong youth, 
As he before had sanctified 
Thy infancy with heavenly truth. 

Ye StripHngs, light of heart and gay, 

Bold settlers on some foreign shore. 

Give, when your thoughts are turned this way, 

A sigh to him whom we deplore. 

For us who here in funeral strain 
With one accord our voices raise. 
Let sorrow overcharged with pain 
Be lost in thankfulness and praise. 

And when our hearts shall feel a sting 
From ill we meet or good we miss. 
May touches of his memory bring 
Fond healing, like a mother's kiss. 

Long time his pulse hath ceased to beat. 
But benefits, his gift, we trace — 
Expressed in every eye we meet 
Round this dear Vale, his native place. 
[ 177 1 


To stately Hall and Cottage rude 
Flowed from his life what still they hold. 
Light pleasures, every day renewed; 
And blessings half a century old. 

Oh true of heart, of spirit gay. 
Thy faults, where not already gone 
From memory, prolong their stay 
For charity's sweet sake alone. 

Such solace find we for our loss; 
And what beyond this thought we crave 
Comes in the promise from the Cross, 
Shining upon thy happy grave. 

[ 178] 


1799 1800 

In the School of is a tablet, on which are inscribed, in 

gilt letters, the Names of the several persons who have been 
Schoolmasters there since the foundation of the School, with 
the time at which they entered upon and quitted their office. 
Opposite to one of those names the Author wrote the follow- 
ing lines. 

Such a Tablet as is here spoken of continued to be preserved 
in Hawkshead School, though the inscriptions were not brought 
down to our time. This and other poems connected with Mat- 
thew would not gain by a literal detail of facts. Like the Wan- 
derer in "The Excursion," this Schoolmaster was made up of 
j several both of his class and men of other occupations. I do 
not ask pardon for what there is of untruth in such verses, con- 
sidered strictly as matters of fact. It is enough if, being true 
and consistent in spirit, they move and teach in a manner not 
unworthy of a Poet's calling. 

If Nature, for a favourite child, 
In thee hath tempered so her clay. 
That every hour thy heart runs wild, 
Yet never once doth go astray. 

Read o'er these lines; and then review 
This tablet, that thus humbly rears 
In such diversity of hue 
Its history of two hundred years. 
[ 1^9 ] 


— When through this little wreck of fame, 
Cipher and syllable ! thine eye 
Has travelled down to Matthew's name, 
Pause with no common sympathy. 

And, if a sleeping tear should wake. 
Then be it neither checked nor stayed: 
For Matthew a request I make 
Which for himself he had not made. 

Poor Matthew, all his frolics o'er. 
Is silent as a standing pool; 
Far from the chimney's merry roar. 
And murmur of the village school. 

The sighs which Matthew heaved were sighs 
Of one tired out with fun and madness; 
The tears which came to Matthew's eyes 
Were tears of light, the dew of gladness. 

Yet, sometimes, when the secret cup 
Of still and serious thought went round. 
It seemed as if he drank it up — 
He felt with spirit so profound. 
[ 180 ] 


— Thou soul of God's best earthly mould! 
Thou happy Soul ! and can it be 
That these two words of glittering gold 
Are all that must remain of thee ? 



1799 1800 

We walked along, while b right and re^ 
Uprose the morning sun; 
And Alailti.ew stopped, he looked, and said, 
"The will of God be done!" 

A vill age schoolmaster w as he, 
With hair of glittering grey; 
As blithe a man as you could see 
On a spring holiday. 

And on that "morning, through the grass, 
And by the steaming rills, 
We travelled merrily, to pass 
A day among the hills. 

"Our work," said I, "was well begun. 
Then, from thy breast what thought, 
Beneath so beautiful a sun, 
So sad a sigh has brought.^ " 

A second time did Matthew stop; 
And fixing still his eye 

[ 182 1 


Upon the eastern mountain-top, 
To me he made reply: 

"Yon cloud with that long purple cleft 
Brings fresh into my mind 
A day like this which I have left 
Full thirty years behind. 

; "And just above yon slope of corn 


Such colours, and no other. 
Were in the sky, that April morn, 
' Of this the very brother. 

J "With rod and line I sued the sport 
WhicE~tKat sweet season gave, 
And, to the church-yard come, stopped short 
Beside my daughter's grave. 

"Nine summers had she scarcely seen, 
The pride of all the vale; 
And then she sang; — she would have been 
A very nightingale. 

'Six feet in earth my Emma lay; 
And yet I loved her more. 
For so it seemed, than till that day 
I e'er had loved before, 
f 183 1 


"And, turning from her grave, I met. 
Beside the church-yard yew, 
A blooming Girl, whose hair was wet 
With points of morning dew. 

"A basket on her head she bare; 
Her brow was smooth and white: 
To see a child so very fair. 
It was a pure delight ! 

" No fountain from its rocky cave 
E'er tripped with foot so free; 
She seemed as happy as a wave 
That dances on the sea. 

"There came from me a sigh of pain 
i Which I could ill confine; 
»^ 1 1 looked at her, and looked again: 
* And did not wish her mine!" 

Matthew is in his grave, yet now, 
Methinks, I see him stand. 
As at that moment, with a bough 
Of wilding in his hand. 

184 ] 



1799 1800 

We talked with open heart, and tongue 
Affectionate and true, 
A pair of friends, though I was y oung, 
And Matthew seventy-tw o. 

We lay beneath a spreading oak. 
Beside a mossy seat; 
And from the turf a fountain broke. 
And gurgled at our feet. 

"Now, Matthew!" said I, *'let us match 
This water's pleasant tune 
With some old border-song, or catch 
That suits a summer's noon; 

"Or of the church-clock and the chimes 
Sing here beneath the shade, 
That half-mad thing of witty rhymes 
Which you last April made!" 
f 185 1 


In silence Matthew lay, and eyed 
The spring beneath the tree; 
And thus the dear old Man replied, 
The grey-haired man of glee: 

"No check, no stay, this Streamlet fears; 

How merrily it goes! 
( 'T will murmur on a thousand years. 

And flow as now it flows. 

"And here, on this delightful day, 
I cannot choose but think 
How oft, a vigorous man, I lay 
Beside this fountain's brink. . 

My eyes are dim with childish tears. 
My heart is idly stirred. 
For the same sound is in my ears 
Which in those days I heard. 


^"Thus fares it still in our decay: 

And yet the wiser mind 

Mourns less for what age takes away 

Than what it leaves behind. 

"The^blackbird amid leafy trees, 
T he lark above the hill, 
[ 186 ] 


Let loose their carols when they please. 
Are quiet when they will. 

'With Nature never do they wage \1 (\>i^'^ ^ 

A foolish strife; they see 

A happy youth, and their old age 

Is beautiful and free : 

"But we are pressed by heavy laws; 

And often, glad no more, 
^We wear a face of joy, because 

We have been glad of yore. 


"If there be one who need bemoan 
His kindred laid in earth, 
The household hearts that were his own; 
It is the man of mirth. 

"My days, my Friend, are almost gone. 
My life has been approved. 
And many love me; but by none 
Am I enough beloved." 

"Now both himself and me he wrongs, 
The man w^io thus complains; 
I live and sing my idle songs 
Upon these happy plains; 
f 187 1 


"And, Matthew, for thy children dead 

I'll be a son to thee!" 

At this he grasped my hand, and said, 
"Alas! that cannot be." 

We rose up from the fountain-side; 
And down the smooth descent 
Of the green sheep-track did we glide; 
And through the wood we went; 

And, ere we came to Leonard's rock. 
He sang those witty rhymes 
About the crazy old church-clock. 
And the bewildered chimes. 

188 ] 


1799 1800 

Written in Germany. 

Let thy wheel-barrow alone — 

Wherefore, Sexton, piling still 

In thy bone-house bone on bone? 

'T is alread}^ like a hill 

In a field of battle made. 

Where three thousand skulls are laid; 

These died in peace each with the other. 

Father, sister, friend, and brother. 

Mark the spot to which I point! 
From this platform, eight feet square. 
Take not even a finger-joint: 
Andrew's whole fire-side is there. 
Here, alone, before thine eyes, 
Simon's sickly daughter lies. 
From weakness now, and pain defended. 
Whom he twenty winters tended. 

Look but at the gardener's pride — 
How he glories, when he sees 
f 189 ] 


Roses, lilies, side by side, 
Violets in families! 
By the heart of Man, his tears. 
By his hopes and by his fears, 
Thou, too heedless, art the Warden 
Of a far superior garden. 

Thus then, each to other dear. 

Let them all in quiet lie, 

Andrew there, and Susan here. 

Neighbours in mortality. 

And, should I live through sun and rain 

Seven widowed years without my Jane, 

O Sexton, do not then remove her. 

Let one grave hold the Loved and Lover! 




1799 1800 

Written in Germany. It was entirely a fancy; but intended 
as a prelude to a ballad poem never written. 


Between two sister moorland rills 

There is a spot that seems to lie 

Sacred to flowerets of the hills, 

And sacred to the sky. 

And in this smooth and open dell 

There is a tempest-stricken tree; 

A corner-stone by lightning cut, 

The last stone of a lonely hut; 

And in this dell you see 

A thing no storm can e'er destroy. 

The shadow of a Danish Boy. 


In clouds above, the lark is heard. 
But drops not here to earth for rest; 
Within this lonesome nook the bird 
Did never build her nest. 
[ 191 ] 


No beast, no bird hath here his home; 
Bees, wafted on the breezy air. 
Pass high above those fragrant bells 
To other flowers : — to other dells 
Their burthens do they bear; 
.The Danish Boy walks here alone: 
The lovely deli is all his own. 


A Spirit of noon-day is he; 

Yet seems a form of flesh and blood; 

Nor piping shepherd shall he be. 

Nor herd-boy of the wood. 

A regal vest of fur he wears, 

In colour like a raven's wing; 

It fears not rain, nor wind, nor dew; 

But in the storm 't is fresh and blue 

As budding pines in spring; 

His helmet has a vernal grace, 

Fresh as the bloom upon his face. 


A harp is from his shoulder slung; 
Resting the harp upon his knee. 
To words of a forgotten tongue 
He suits its melody. 
[ 192 ] 


Of flocks upon the neighbouring hill 
He is the darling and the joy; 
And often, when no cause appears, 
The mountain-ponies prick their ears, 
— They hear the Danish Boy, 
While in the dell he sings alone 
Beside the tree and corner-stone. 


There sits he; in his face you spy 
No trace of a ferocious air, 
Nor ever was a cloudless sky 
So steady or so fair. 
The lovely Danish Boy is blest 
And happy in his flowery cove : 
From bloody deeds his thoughts are far; 
And yet he warbles songs of war. 
That seem like songs of love. 
For calm and gentle is his mien; 
f Like a dead Boy he is serene. 



1799 1800 

Written at Goslar in Germany. It was founded on a cir- 
cumstance told me by my Sister, of a little girl who, not far 
from Halifax in Yorkshire, was bewildered in a snow-storm. 
Her footsteps were traced by her parents to the middle of 
the lock of a canal, and no other vestige of her, backward or 
forward, could be traced. The body however was found 
in the canal. The way in which the incident was treated 
and the spiritualising of the character might furnish hints 
for contrasting the imaginative influences which I have 
endeavoured to throw over common life with Crabbe's 
matter of fact style of treating subjects of the same kind. 
This is not spoken to his disparagement, far from it, but to 
direct the attention of thoughtful readers, into whose hands 
these notes may fall, to a comparison that may both enlarge 
the circle of their sensibilities, and tend to produce in them 
a catholic judgment. 

Oft I had heard of Lucy Gray: 
And, when I crossed the wild, 
I chanced to see at break of day 
^ The solitary child. 

No mate, no comrade Lucy knew; 
She dwelt on a wide moor, 
[ 194 1 


— The sweetest thing that ever grew 
Beside a human door ! 

You yet may spy the fawn at play, 
The hare upon the green; 
But the sweet face of Lucy Gray 
Will never more be seen. 

"To-night will be a stormy night — 
You to the town must go; 
And take a lantern, Child, to light 
Your mother through the snow." 

"That, Father! will I gladly do: 
'T is scarcely afternoon — 
The minster-clock has just struck two, 
And yonder is the moon!" 

At this the Father raised his hook. 
And snapped a faggot-band; 
He plied his work; — and Lucy took 
The lantern in her hand. 

Not blither is the mountain roe: 
With many a wanton stroke 
Her feet disperse the powdery snow, 
That rises up like smoke. 
[ 195 ] 


The storm came on before its time: 
She wandered up and down; 
And many a hill did Lucy climb: 
But never reached the town. 

The wretched parents all that night 
Went shouting far and wide; 
But there was neither sound nor sight 
To serve them for a guide. 

At day -break on a hill they stood 
That overlooked the moor; 
And thence they saw the bridge of wood, 
A furlong from their door. 

They wept — and, turning homeward, cried, 
*In heaven we all shall meet"; 
— When in the snow the mother spied 
The print of Lucy's feet. 

Then downwards from the steep hill's edge 
They tracked the footmarks small; 
And through the broken hawthorn hedge, 
And by the long stone-wall; 

And then an open field they crossed: 
The marks were still the same; 
I 106 ] 


They tracked them on, nor ever lost; 
And to the bridge they came. 

They followed from the snowy bank 
Those footmarks, one by one, 
Into the middle of the plank; 
And further there were none! 

— Yet some maintain that to this day 
She is a living child; 
That you may see sweet Lucy Gray 
Upon the lonesome wild. 

O'er rough and smooth she trips along. 
And never looks behind; 
And sings a solitary song 
That whistles in the wind. 



1799 1800 

Written in Germany. Suggested by an account I had of a 
wanderer in Somersetshire. 

When Ruth was left half desolate, 
Her Father took another Mate; 
And Ruth, not seven years old, 
A slighted child, at her own will 
Went wandering over dale and hill, 
In thoughtless freedom, bold. 

And she had made a pipe of straw, 
And music from that pipe could draw 
Like sounds of winds and floods; 
Had built a bower upon the green. 
As if she from her birth had been 
An infant of the woods. 

' Beneath her father's roof, alone 

\ . 

j She seemed to live; her thoughts her own; 

Herself her own delight; 

Pleased with herself, nor sad, nor gay; 

x\nd, passing thus the live-long day, 

She grew to woman's height. 

f 198 1 


There came a Youth from Georgia's shore 

A miHtary casque he wore, 

With splendid feathers drest; 

He brought them from the Cherokees; 

The feathers nodded in the breeze, 

And made a gallant crest. 

From Indian blood you deem him sprung: 
But no ! he spake the English tongue, 
And bore a soldier's name; 
And, when America was free 
From battle and from jeopardy. 
He 'cross the ocean came. 

With hues of genius on his cheek 

In finest tones the Youth could speak: 

— While he was yet a boy, 

The moon, the glory of the sun, 

And streams that murmur as they run. 

Had been his dearest joy. 

He was a lovely youth! I guess 

The panther in the wilderness 

Was not so fair as he; 

And, when he chose to sport and play. 

No dolphin ever was so gay 

Upon the tropic sea. 

[ 199 1 


Among the Indians he had fought, 

And with him many tales he brought 

Of pleasure and of fear; 

Such tales as told to any maid 

By such a Youth, in the green shade. 

Were perilous to hear. 

He told of girls — a happy rout! 

Who quit their fold with dance and shoutp 

Their pleasant Indian town, 

To gather strawberries all day long; 

Returning with a choral song 

W^hen daylight is gone down. 

He spake of plants that hourly change 
Their blossoms, through a boundless range 
Of intermingling hues; 
With budding, fading, faded flowers 
They stand the wonder of the bowers 
From morn to evening dews. 

He told of the magnolia, spread 
High as a cloud, high over head! 
The cypress and her spire; 
— Of flowers that with one scarlet gleam 
Cover a hundred leagues, and seem 
To set the hills on fire. 
[ 200 ] 


The Youth of green savannahs spake. 
And many an endless, endless lake, 
With all its fairy crowds 
Of islands, that together lie 
As quietly as spots of sky 
Among the evening clouds. 

'How pleasant,'* then he said, "it were 
A fisher or a hunter there, 
In sunshine or in shade 
To wander with an easy mind; 
And build a household fire, and find 
A home in every glade! 

' What days and what bright years ! Ah me ! 
Our life were life indeed, with thee 
So passed in quiet bliss, 
And all the while," said he, "to know 
That we were in a world of woe. 
On such an earth as this!" 

And then he sometimes interwove 
Fond thoughts about a father's love; 
'For there," said he, "are spun 
Around the heart such tender ties. 
That our own children to our eyes 
Are dearer than the sun. 
[ 201 1 


"Sweet Ruth! and could you go with me 
My helpmate in the woods to be. 
Our shed at night to rear; 
Or run, my own adopted bride, 
A sylvan huntress at my side, 
And drive the flying deer! 

"Beloved Ruth!" — No more he said. 
The wakeful Ruth at midnight shed 
A solitary tear: 

She thought again — and did agree 
With him to sail across the sea, 
And drive the flying deer. 

"And now, as fitting is and right. 
We in the church our faith will plight, 
A husband and a wife." 
Even so they did; and I may say 
That to sweet Ruth that happy day 
Was more than human life. 

Through dream and vision did she sink,^ 
Delighted all the while to think 
That on those lonesome floods. 
And green savannahs, she should share 
His board with lawful joy, and bear 
His na ^ in the wild woods. 
[ 202 ] 


But, as you have before been told, 
This Stripling, sportive, gay, and bold. 
And, with his dancing crest. 
So beautiful, through savage lands 
Had roamed about, with vagrant bands 
Of Indians in the West. 

The wind, the tempest roaring high, 

The tumult of a tropic sky. 

Might well be dangerous food 

For him, a Youth to whom was given 

So much of earth — so much of heaven. 

And such impetuous blood. 

Whatever in those climes he found 

Irregular in sight or sound 

Did to his mind impart 

A kindred impulse, seemed allied 

To his own powers, and justified 

The workings of his heart. 

Nor less, to feed voluptuous thought. 
The beauteous forms of nature wrought. 
Fair trees and gorgeous flowers; 
The breezes their own languor lent; 
The stars had feelings, which they sent 
Into those favoured bowers. 
[ 203 ] 


Yet, in his worst pursuits, I ween 

That sometimes there did intervene 

Pure hopes of high intent: 

For passions linked to form so fair 

And stately, needs must have their share 

Of noble sentiment. 

But ill he lived, much evil saw, 
With men to whom no better law 
Nor better life was known; 
Deliberately, and undeceived, 
Those wild men's vices he received. 
And gave them back his own. 

His genius and his moral frame 
Were thus impaired, and he became 
The slave of low desires: 
A Man who without self-control 
Would seek what the degraded soul 
Unworthily admires. 

And yet he with no feigned delight 
Had wooed the Maiden, day and night 
Had loved her, night and morn : 
What could he less than love a Maid 
Whose heart with so much nature played? 
So kind and so forlorn! 
[ 204 ] 


Sometimes, most earncstl3^ he said, 
"O Ruth! I have been worse than dead; 
False thoughts, thoughts bold and vain. 
Encompassed me on every side 
When I, in confidence and pride. 
Had crossed the Atlantic main. 

" Before m.e shone a glorious world — 
Fresh as a banner bright, unfurled 
To music suddenly: 
I looked upon those hills and plains, 
And seemed as if let loose from chainsa 
To live at liberty. 

"No more of this; for now, by thee 
Dear Rnth ! more happily set free 
With nobler zeal I burn; 
«My soul from darkness is released. 
Like the whole sky when to the east 
The morning doth return." 

Full soon that better mind was gone; 
No hope, no wish remained, not one, — 
They stirred him now no more; 
New objects did new pleasure give, 
And once again he wished to live 
As lawless as before. 
[ 205 ] 


Meanwhile, as thus with him it fared. 
They for the voyage were prepared. 
And went to the sea-shore. 
But, when they thither came the Youth 
Deserted his poor Bride, and Ruth 
Could never find him more. 

God help thee, Ruth ! — Such pains she had. 

That she in half a year was mad. 

And in a prison housed; 

And there, with many a doleful song 

Made of wild words, her cup of wrong 

She fearfully caroused. 

Yet sometimes milder hours she knew. 
Nor wanted sun, nor rain, nor dew. 
Nor pastimes of the May; 
— They all were with her in her cell; 
And a clear brook with cheerful knell 
Did o'er the pebbles play. 

When Ruth three seasons thus had lain. 
There came a respite to her pain; 
She from her prison fled; 
But of the Vagrant none took thought; 
And where it liked her best she sought 
Her shelter and her bread. 
[ 206 ] 


Among the fields she breathed again : 
The master-current of her brain 
Ran permanent and free; 
And, coming to the Banks of Tone, ^ 
There did she rest; and dwell alone 1/ 
Under the greenwood tree. 

The engines of her pain, the tools 

That shaped her sorrow, rocks and pools, 

And airs that gently stir 

The vernal leaves — she loved them still; 

Nor ever taxed them with the ill 

Which had been done to her. 

A Barn her winter bed supplies; 

But, till the warmth of summer skies 

And summer days is gone, 

(And all do in this tale agree) 

She sleeps beneath the greenwood tree, 

And other home hath none. 

An innocent life, yet far astray! 
And Ruth will, long before her day, 
Be broken down and old: 
Sore aches she needs must have! but less 
Of mind, than body's wretchedness, 
From damp, and rain, and cold. 
[ 207 ] 


If she is prest by want of food. 
She from her dwelUng in the wood 
Repairs to a road-side; 
And there she begs at one steep place 
Where up and down with easy pace 
The horsemen-travellers ride. 

That oaten pipe of hers is mute, 
Or thrown away; but with a flute 
Her loneliness she cheers: 
This flute, made of a hemlock st-.ilk, 
At evening in his homeward walk 
The Quantock woodman hears. 

I, too, have passed her on the hills 
Setting her little water-mills 
By spouts and fountains wild — 
Such small machinery as she turned 
Ere she had wept, ere she had mourned, 
A young and happy Child! 

Farewell! and when thy days are told. 

Ill-fated Ruth, in hallowed mould 

Thy corpse shall buried be. 

For thee a funeral bell shall ring. 

And all the congregation sing 

A Christian psalm for thee. 



1799 1800 

A bitter winter it was when these verses were composed by 
the side of my Sister, in our lodgings at a draper's house in the 
romantic imperial town of Goslar, on the edge of the Hartz 
Forest. In this town the German emperors of the Franconian 
line were accustomed to keep their court, and it retains ves- 
tiges of ancient splendour. So severe was the cold of this win- 
ter, that when we passed out of the parlour warmed by the 
stove, our cheeks were struck by the air as by cold iron. I 
slept in a room over a passage which was not ceiled. The peo- 
ple of the house used to say, rather unfeelingly, that they ex- 
pected I should be frozen to death some night; but, with the 
protection of a pelisse lined with fur, and a dog's-skin bonnet, 
such as was worn by the peasants, I walked daily on the ram- 
parts, or in a sort of public ground or garden, in which was a 
pond. Here, I had no companion but a kingfisher, a beautiful 
creature, that used to glance by me. I consequently became 
much attached to it. During these walks I composed the poem 
that follows. 

The Reader must be apprised, that the Stoves in North- 
Germany generally have the impression of a galloping horse 
upon them, this being part of the Brunswick Arms. 

A PL^iGUE on your languages, German and Norse ! 
Let me have the song of the kettle ; 
And the tongs and the poker, instead of that horse 
[ 209 1 


That gallops away with such fury and force 
On this dreary dull plate of black metal. 

See that Fly, — a disconsolate creature ! perhaps 
A child of the field or the grove; 
And, sorrow for him ! the dull treacherous heat 
Has seduced the poor fool from his winter retreat. 
And he creeps to the edge of my stove. 

Alas ! how he fumbles about the domains 
Which this comfortless oven environ! 
He cannot find out in what track he must crawl, 
Now back to the tiles, then in search of the wall. 
And now on the brink of the iron. 

Stock-still there he stands like a traveller bemazed: 

The best of his skill he has tried; 

His feelers, methinks, I can see him put forth 

To the east and the west, to the south and the north; 

But he finds neither guide-post nor guide. 

His spindles sink under him, foot, leg, and thigh ! 
His eyesight and hearing are lost; 
Between life and death his blood freezes and thaws; 
And his two pretty pinions of blue dusky gauze 
Are glued to his sides by the frost, 
f 210 ] 


No brother, no mate has he near him — while I 
Can draw warmth from the cheek of my Love; 
As blest and as glad, in this desolate gloom. 
As if green summer grass were the floor of my room. 
And woodbines were hanging above. 

Yet, God is my witness, thou small helpless Thing! 
Thy life I would gladly sustain 

Till summer come up from the south, and with crowds 
Of thy brethren a march thou should'st sound through 

the clouds. 
And back to the forests again! 

211 ] 


1800(?) 1851 

Bleak season was it, turbulent and wild. 

When hitherward we journeyed, side by side, 

Through bursts of sunshine and through flying showers. 

Paced the long vales, — how long they were, and yet 

How fast that length of way was left behind ! — 

Wensley's rich dale, and Sedberge's naked heights. 

The frosty wind, as if to make amends 

For its keen breath, was aiding to our steps, 

And drove us onward as tw^o ships at sea; 

Or like two birds, companions in mid-air. 

Parted and reunited by the blast. 

Stern was the face of Nature; we rejoiced 

In that stern countenance; for our souls thence drew 

A feeling of their strength. 

The naked trees. 
The icy brooks, as on we passed, appeared 
To question us, "Whence come ye, to what end?" 

[ 212 


1800(?) 1851 

On Nature's invitation do I come, 
By Reason sanctioned. Can the choice mislead. 
That made the calmest, fairest spot on earth, 
With all its unappropriated good, 
My own; and not mine only, for with me 
Entrenched — say rather peacefully embowered — 
Under yon orchard, in yon humble cot, 
A younger orphan of a name extinct, 
The only daughter of my parents, dwells: 
Aye, think on that, my heart, and cease to stir; 
Pause upon that, and let the breathing frame 
No longer breathe, but all be satisfied. 
Oh, if such silence be not thanks to God 
For what hath been bestowed, then where, where then 
Shall gratitude find rest? Mine eyes did ne'er 
Fix on a lovely object, nor my mind 
Take pleasure in the midst of happy thought. 
But either she, whom now I have, who now 
Divides with me that loved abode, was there. 
Or not far off. Where'er my footsteps turned, 
[ 213 ] 


Her voice was like a hidden bird that sang; 

The thought of her was Hke a flash of hght. 

Or an unseen companionship; a breath 

Or fragrance independent of the wind. 

In all my goings, in the new and old 

Of aU my meditations, and in this 

Favourite of all, in this the most of all. . . . 

Embrace me then, ye hills, and close me in. 

Now in the clear and open day I feel 

Your guardianship: I take it to my heart; 

'T is like the solemn shelter of the night. 

But I would call thee beautiful; for mild 

And soft, and gay, and beautiful thou art. 

Dear valley, having in thy face a smile. 

Though peaceful, full of gladness. Thou art pleased, 

Pleased with thy crags, and woody steeps, thy lake. 

Its one green island, and its winding shores, 

The multitude of little rocky hills, 

Thy church, and cottages of mountain stone 

Clustered like stars some few, but single most. 

And lurking dimly in their shy retreats. 

Or glancing at each other cheerful looks 

Like separated stars with clouds between. 

[ 214 


1800(?) 1888 



Once to the verge of yon steep barrier came 
A roving school-boy; what the adventurer's age 
Hath now escaped his memory — but the hour. 
One of a golden summer holiday. 
He well remembers, though the year be gone — 
Alone and devious from afar he came; 
And, with a sudden influx overpowered 
At sight of this seclusion, he forgot 
His haste, for hasty had his footsteps been 
As boyish his pursuits; and sighing said, 
' What happy fortune were it here to live ! 
And, if a thought of dying, if a thought 
Of mortal separation, could intrude 
With paradise before him, here to die!" 
No Prophet was he, had not even a hope, 
Scarcely a wish, but one bright pleasing thought, 
A fancy in the heart of what might be 
The lot of others, never could be his. 

The station whence he looked was soft and green, 
[ 215 1 


Not giddy yet aerial, with a depth 
Of vale below, a height of hills above. 
For rest of body perfect was the spot. 
All that luxurious nature could desire; 
But stirring to the spirit; who could gaze 
And not feel motions there? He thought of clouds 
That sail on winds: of breezes that delight 
To play on water, or in endless chase 
Pursue each other through the yielding plain 
Of grass or com, over and through and through. 
In billow after billow, evermore 
Disporting — nor unmindful was the boy 
Of sunbeams, shadows, butterflies and birds; 
Of fluttering sylphs and softly-gliding Fays, 
Genii, and winged angels that are Lords 
Without restraint of all which they behold. 
The illusion strengthening as he gazed, he felt 
That such unfettered liberty was his. 
Such power and joy; but only for this end. 
To flit from field to rock, from rock to field. 
From shore to island, and from isle to shore. 
From open ground to covert, from a bed 
Of meadow-flowers into a tuft of wood ; 
From high to low, from low to high, yet still 
Within the bound of this huge concave; here 
Must be his home, this valley be his world. 
[ 21G ] 


Since that day forth the Place to him — to me 
(For I who live to register the truth 
Was that same young and happy Being) became 
As beautiful to thought, as it had been 
When present, to the bodily sense; a haunt 
Of pure affections, shedding upon joy 
A brighter joy ; and through such damp and gloom 
Of the gay mind, as ofttimes splenetic youth 
Mistakes for sorrow, darting beams of light 
That no self-cherished sadness could withstand; 
And now 't is mine, perchance for life, dear Vale, 
Beloved Grasmere (let the wandering streams 
Take up, the cloud-capt hills repeat, the Name) 
One of thy lowly Dwellings is my Home. 

And was the cost so great? and could it seem 
An act of courage, and the thing itself 
A conquest? who must bear the blame? Sage man 
Thy prudence, thy experience, thy desires. 
Thy apprehensions — blush thou for them all. 

Yes the realities of life so cold. 
So cowardly, so ready to betray. 
So stinted in the measure of their grace 
As we pronounce them, doing them much wrong, 
Have been to me more bountiful than hope, 
Less timid than desire — but that is past. 

On Nature's invitation do I come, 
[ 217 1 


By Reason sanctioned. Can the choice mislead, 
That made the calmest, fairest spot of earth 
With all its unappropriated good 
My own; and not mine only, for with me 
Entrenched, say rather peacefully embowered. 
Under yon orchard, in yon humble cot, 
A younger Orphan of a home extinct. 
The only Daughter of my Parents dwells. 

Ay, think on that, my heart, and cease to stir, 
Pause upon that and let the breathing frame 
No longer breathe, but all be satisfied. 
— Oh, if such silence be not thanks to God 
For what hath been bestowed, then where, where then 
Shall gratitude find rest.^^ Mine eyes did ne'er 
Fix on a lovely object, nor my mind 
Take pleasure in the midst of happy thoughts, 
But either She whom now I have, who now 
Divides with me this loved abode, was there 
Or not far off. Where'er my footsteps turned. 
Her voice was like a hidden Bird that sang. 
The thought of her was like a flash of light. 
Or an unseen companionship, a breath 
Of fragrance independent of the Wind. 
In all my goings, in the new and old a. 

Of all my meditations, and in this 
Favourite of all, in this the most of all. 
f 218 1 


— What being, therefore, since the birth of Man 

Had ever more abundant cause to speak 

Thanks, and if favours of the Heavenly Muse 

Make him more thankful, then to call on Verse 

To aid him and in song resound his joy? 

The boon is absolute; surpassing grace 

To me hath been vouchsafed ; among the bowers 

Of blissful Eden this was neither given 

Nor could be given, possession of the good 

Which had been sighed for, ancient thought fulfilled, 

And dear Imaginations realised, 

Up to their highest measure, yea and more. 

Embrace me then, ye Hills, and close me in; 
Now in the clear and open day I feel 
Your guardianship; I take it to my heart; 
'T is like the solemn shelter of the night. 
But I would call thee beautiful, for mild. 
And soft, and gay, and beautiful thou art, 
Dear Valley, having in thy face a smile, 
Though peaceful, full of gladness. Thou art pleased, 
Pleased with thy crags and woody steeps, thy Lake, 
Its one green island and its winding shores; 
The multitude of little rocky hills, 
Thy Church and cottages of mountain stone 
Clustered like stars some few, but single most. 
And lurking dimly in their shy retreats, 
f 219 1 


Or glancing at each other cheerful looks 
Like separated stars with clouds between. 
What want we? have we not perpetual streams, 
Warm woods, and sunny hills, and fresh green fields, 
And mountains not less green, and flocks and herds, 
And thickets full of songsters, and the voice 
Of lordly birds, an unexpected sound 
Heard now and then from morn to latest eve. 
Admonishing the man who walks below 
Of solitude and silence in the sky? 
These have we, and a thousand nooks of earth 
Have also these, but nowhere else is found, 
Nowhere (or is it fancy?) can be found 
The one sensation that is here; 't is here, 
Here as it found its way into my heart 
In childhood, here as it abides by day. 
By night, here only; or in chosen minds 
That take it with them hence, where'er they go. 
— 'T is, but I cannot name it, 't is the sense 
Of majesty, and beauty, and repose, 
A blended holiness of earth and sky. 
Something that makes this individual spot, 
This small abiding-place of many men, 
A termination, and a last retreat, 
A centre, come from wheresoe'er you will, 
A whole without dependence or defect, 
[ 220 ] 


Made for itself, and happy in itself. 
Perfect contentment, Unity entire. 

Bleak season was it, turbulent and bleak. 
When hitherward we journeyed side by side 
Through burst of sunshine and through flying showers; 
Paced the long vales — how long they were — and yet 
How fast that length of way was left behind, 
Wensley's rich Vale, and Sedbergh's naked heights. 
The frosty wind, as if to make amends 
For its keen breath, was aiding to our steps. 
And drove us onward like two ships at sea, 
Or like two birds, companions in mid-air. 
Parted and reunited by the blast. 

Stern was the face of Nature; we rejoiced 
In that stern countenance, for our souls thence drew 
A feeling of their strength. The naked trees. 
The icy brooks, as on we passed, appeared 
To question us. "Whence come ye, to what end.'*" 
They seemed to say. "What would ye," said the shower, 
"Wild Wanderers, whither through my dark domain.^*'* 
The sunbeam said, "Be happy." When this vale 
We entered, bright and solemn was the sky 
That faced us with a passionate welcoming. 
And led us to our threshold. Daylight failed 
Insensibly, and round us gently fell 
Composing darkness, with a quiet load 
• [ 221 ] 



Of full contentment, in a little shed 

Disturbed, uneasy in itself as seemed. 

And wondering at its new inhabitants. 

It loves us now, this Vale so beautiful 

Begins to love us! by a sullen storm. 

Two months unwearied of severest storm, 

It put the temper of our minds to proof. 

And found us faithful through the gloom, and heard 

The poet mutter his prelusive songs 

With cheerful heart, an unknown voice of joy 

Among the silence of the woods and hills; 

Silent to any gladsomeness of sound 

With all their shepherds. 

But the gates of Spring 
Are opened; churlish Winter hath given leave 
That she should entertain for this one day, 
Perhaps for many genial days to come. 
His guests, and make them jocund. — They are 

But most of all the birds that haunt the flood. 
With the mild summons; inmates though they be 
Of Winter's household, they keep festival 
This day, who drooped, or seemed to droop, so long; 
They show their pleasure, and shall I do less? 
Happier of happy though I be, like them 
I cannot take possession of the sky, 



Mount with a thoughtless impulse, and wheel there 
One of a mighty multitude, whose way 
Is a perpetual harmony and dance 
Magnificent. Behold how with a grace 
Of ceaseless motion, that might scarcely seem 
Inferior to angelical, they prolong 
Their curious pastime, shaping in mid-air. 
And sometimes with ambitious wing that soars 
High as the level of the mountain tops, 
A circuit ampler than the lake beneath. 
Their own domain; — but ever, while intent 
On tracing and retracing that large round. 
Their jubilant activity evolves 
Hundreds of curves and circlets, to and fro. 
Upwards and downwards; progress intricate 
Yet unperplexed, as if one spirit swayed 
Their indefatigable flight. 'T is done, 
Ten times and more I fancied it had ceased, 
But lo ! the vanished company again 
Ascending, they approach. I hear their wings 
Faint, faint at first; and then an eager sound 
Passed in a moment — and as faint again ! 
They tempt the sun to sport among their plumes; 
Tempt the smooth water, or the gleaming ice, 
To show them a fair image, — 't is themselves, 
Their ow^n fair forms upon the glimmering plain 
[ 223 1 


Painted more soft and fair as they descend. 

Almost to touch, — then up again aloft. 

Up with a sally and a flash of speed. 

As if they scorned both resting-place and rest! 

— This day is a thanksgiving, 't is a day 

Of glad emotion and deep quietness; 

Not upon me alone hath been bestowed. 

Me rich in many onward-looking thoughts. 

The penetrating bliss; oh surely these 

Have felt it, not the happy choirs of spring, 

Her own peculiar family of love 

That sport among green leaves, a blither train ! 

But two are missing, two, a lonely pair 
Of milk-white Swans; wherefore are they not seen 
Partaking this day's pleasure? From afar 
They came, to sojourn here in solitude. 
Choosing this Valley, they who had the choice 
Of the whole word. We saw them day by day, 
Through those two months of unrelenting storm. 
Conspicuous at the centre of the Lake, 
Their safe retreat, we knew them well, I guess 
That the whole valley knew them; but to us 
They were more dear than may be well believed, 
Not only for their beauty, and their still 
And placid way of life, and constant love 
Inseparable, not for these alone, 
[ 224 ] 


But that their state so much resembled ours. 
They having also chosen this abode; 
They strangers, and we strangers, they a pair, 
And we a solitary pair like them. 
They should not have departed; many days 
Did I look forth in vain, nor on the wing 
Could see them, nor in that small open space 
Of blue unfrozen water, where they lodged 
And lived so long in quiet, side by side. 
Shall we behold them consecrated friends. 
Faithful companions, yet another year 
Surviving, they for us, and we for them, 
And neither pair be broken? nay perchance 
It is too late already for such hope; 
The Dalesmen may have aimed the deadly tube. 
And parted them; or haply both are gone 
One death, and that were mercy given to both. 
Recall, my song, the ungenerous thought, forgive, 
Thrice favoured Region, the conjecture harsh 
Of such inhospitable penalty 
Inflicted upon confidence so pure. 
Ah ! if I wished to follow where the sight 
Of all that is before my eyes, the voice 
Which speaks from a presiding spirit here. 
Would lead me, I should whisper to myself: 
They who are dwellers in this holy place 
f 225 1 


Must needs themselves be hallowed, they require 

No benediction from the stranger's lips, 

For they are blessed already; none would give 

The greeting "peace be with you" unto them. 

For peace they have; it cannot but be theirs, 

And mercy, and forbearance — nay — not these — 

Their healing offices a pure good-will 

Precludes, and charity beyond the bounds 

Of charity — an overflowing love; 

Not for the creature only, but for all 

That is around them; love for everything 

Which in their happy Region they behold! 

Thus do we soothe ourselves, and when the thought 
Is passed, we blame it not for having come. 
— What if I floated down a pleasant stream, 
And now am landed, and the motion gone, 
Shall I reprove myself? Ah no, the stream 
Is flowing, and will never cease to flow. 
And I shall float upon that stream again. 
By such forgetfulness the soul becomes. 
Words cannot say how beautiful : then hail. 
Hail to the visible Presence, hail to thee, 
Delightful Valley, habitation fair! 
And to whatever else of outward form 
Can give an inward help, can purify, 
And elevate, and harmonise, and soothe. 


And steal away, and for a while deceive 
And lap in pleasing rest, and bear us on 
Without desire in full complacency, 
Contemplating perfection absolute, 
"And entertained as in a placid sleep. 

But not betrayed by tenderness of mind 
That feared, or wholly overlooked the truth, 
Did we come hither, with romantic hope 
To find in midst of so much loveliness 
Love, perfect love: of so much majesty 
A like majestic frame of mind in those 
Who here abide, the persons like the place. 
Not from such hope, or aught of such belief. 
Hath issued any portion of the joy 
Which I have felt this day. An awful voice 
'T is true hath in my walks been often heard, 
Sent from the mountains or the sheltered fields, 
Shout after shout — reiterated whoop. 
In manner of a bird that takes delight 
In answering to itself: or like a hound 
Single at chase among the lonely woods, 
His yell repeating; yet it was in truth 
A human voice — a spirit of coming night ; 
How solemn when the sky is dark, and earth 
Not dark, nor yet enlightened, but by snow 
Made visible, amid a noise of winds 
[ 227 1 


And bleatings manifold of mountain sheep, 
"Which in that iteration recognise 
Their summons, and are gathering round for food, 
Devoured with keenness, ere to grove or bank 
Or rocky bield with patience they retire. 

That very voice, which, in some timid mood 
Of superstitious fancy, might have seemed 
Awful as ever stray demoniac uttered. 
His steps to govern in the wilderness; 
Or as the Norman Curfew's regular beat 
To hearths when first they darkened at the knell : 
That shepherd's voice, it may have reached mine ear 
Debased and under profanation, made 
The ready organ of articulate sounds 
From ribaldry, impiety, or WTath, 
Issuing when shame hath ceased to check the brawls 
Of some abused Festivity — so be it. 
I came not dreaming of unruffled life, 
Untainted manners; born among the hills, 
Bred also there, I wanted not a scale 
To regulate my hopes; pleased with the good 
I shrink not from the evil with disgust, 
Or with immoderate painTl I look for Man, 
The common creature of the brotherhood, 
Differing but little from the Man elsewhere, 
For selfishness and envy and revenge, 
[ 228 ] 


111 neighbourhood — pity that this should be — 
Flattery and double-dealing, strife and wrong. 

Yet is it something gained, it is in truth 
A mighty gain, that Labour here preserves 
His rosy face, a servant only here 
Of the fireside or of the open field, 
A Freeman therefore sound and unimpaired: 
That extreme penury is here unknown. 
And cold and hunger's abject wretchedness 
Mortal to body and the heaven-born mind : 
That they who want are not too great a weight 
For those who can relieve; here may the heart 
Breathe in the air of fellow-suffering 
Dreadless, as in a kind of fresher breeze 
Of her own native element, the hand 
Be ready and unwearied without plea. 
From tasks too frequent or beyond its power. 
For languor or indifference or despair. 
And as these lofty barriers break the force 
Of winds, — this deep Vale, as it doth in part 
Conceal us from the storm, so here abides 
A power and a protection for the mind, 
Dispensed indeed to other solitudes 
Favoured by noble privilege like this, 
Where kindred independence of estate 
Is prevalent, where he who tills the field, 
f 229 1 


He, happy man! is master of the field, 
And treads the mountains which his Fathers trod. 
Not less than halfway up yon mountain's side, 
Behold a dusky spot, a grove of Firs 
That seems still smaller than it is; this grove 
Is haunted — by what ghost? a gentle spirit 
Of memory faithful to the call of love; 
For, as reports the Dame, whose fire sends up 
Yon curling smoke from the grey cot below, 
The trees (her first-born child being then a babe) 
Were planted by her husband and herself. 
That ranging o'er the high and houseless ground 
Their sheep might neither want from perilous storm 
Of winter, nor from summer's sultry heat, 
A friendly covert; "and they knew it well," 
Said she, "for thither as the trees grew up 
We to the patient creatures carried food 
In times of heavy snow." She then began 
In fond obedience to her private thoughts 
To speak of her dead husband; is there not 
An art, a music, and a strain of words 
That shall be life, the acknowledged voice of life, 
Shall speak of what is done among the fields. 
Done truly there, or felt, of solid good 
And real evil, yet be sweet withal. 
More grateful, more harmonious than the breath, 
f 230 ] 


The idle breath of softest pipe attuned 
To pastoral fancies? Is there such a stream 
Pure and unsuUied flowing from the heart 
With motions of true dignity and grace? 
Or must we seek that stream where Man is not? 
Methinks I could repeat in tuneful verse, 
Delicious as the gentlest breeze that sounds 
Through that aerial fir-grove — could preserve 
Some portion of its human history 
As gathered from the Matron's lips, and tell 
Of tears that have been shed at sight of it, 
And moving dialogues between this Pair 
Who in their prime of wedlock, with joint hands 
Did plant the grove, now flourishing, while they 
No longer flourish, he entirely gone. 
She withering in her loneliness. Be this 
A task above my skill — the silent mind 
Has her own treasures, and I think of these. 
Love what I see, and honour humankind. 
No, we are not alone, we do not stand. 
My sister here misplaced and desolate. 
Loving what no one cares for but ourselves. 
We shall not scatter through the plains and rocks 
Of this fair Vale, and o'er its spacious heights. 
Unprofitable kindliness, bestowed 
On objects unaccustomed to the gifts 
f 231 1 


Of feeling, which were cheerless and forlorn 
But few weeks past, and would be so again 
Were we not here; we do not tend a lamp 
Whose lustre we alone participate, 
Which shines dependent upon us alone, 
Mortal though bright, a dying, dying flame. 
Look where we will, some human hand has been 
Before us with its offering; not a tree 
Sprinkles these little pastures, but the same 
Hath furnished matter for a thought; perchance 
For some one serves as a familiar friend. 
Joy spreads, and sorrow spreads; and this whole Vale 
Home of untutored shepherds as it is. 
Swarms with sensation, as with gleams of sunshine. 
Shadows or breezes, scents or sounds. Nor deem 
These feelings, though subservient more than ours 
To every day's demand for daily bread. 
And borrowing more their spirit and their shape 
From self-respecting interests; deem them not 
Unworthy therefore, and unhallowed — no. 
They lift the animal being, do themselves 
By Nature's kind and ever-present aid 
Refine the selfishness from which they spring. 
Redeem by love the individual sense 
Of anxiousness, w^ith which they are combined. 
And thus it is that fitly they become 
[ 232 1 


Associates in the joy of purest minds: 
They blend therewith congenially: meanwhile 
Calmly they breathe their own undying life 
Through this their mountain sanctuary; long 
Oh long may it remain inviolate, 
Diffusing health and sober cheerfulness, 
And giving to the moments as they pass 
Their little boons of animating thought 
That sw^eeten labour, make it seen and felt 
To be no arbitrary w^eight imposed. 
But a glad function natural to man. 

Fair proof of this, newcomer though I be, 
Already have I gained; the inward frame. 
Though slowly opening, opens every day 
With process not unlike to that which cheers 
A pensive stranger journeying at his leisure 
Through some Helvetian Dell; when low^-hung mists 
Break up and are beginning to recede; 
How pleased he is where thin and thinner grows 
The veil, or where it parts at once, to spy 
The dark pines thrusting forth their spiky heads; 
To watch the spreading lawns with cattle grazed; 
Then to be greeted by the scattered huts 
As they shine out; and see the streams whose murmur 
Had soothed his ear while they were hidden; how pleased 
To have about him which way e'er he goes 
f 233 1 


Something on every side concealed from view, 

In every quarter something visible 

Half seen or wholly, lost and found again, 

Alternate progress and impediment, 

And yet a growing prospect in the main. 

Such pleasure now is mine, albeit forced. 
Herein less happy than the Traveller, 
To cast from time to time a painful look 
Upon unwelcome things which unawares 
Reveal themselves, not therefore is my heart 
Depressed, nor does it fear what is to come; 
But confident, enriched at every glance. 
The more I see the more delight my mind 
Receives, or but reflection can create: 
Truth justifies herself, and as she dwells 
With Hope, who would not follow where she leadst 

Nor let me pass unheeded other loves 
Where no fear is, and humbler sympathies. 
Already hath sprung up within my heart 
A liking for the small grey horse that bears 
The paralytic man, and for the brute 
In Scripture sanctified — the patient brute 
On which the cripple, in the quarry maimed. 
Rides to and fro: I know them and their ways. 
The famous sheep-dog, first in all the vale. 
Though yet to me a stranger, will not be 
f 234 1 


A stranger long; nor will the blind man's guide, 

Meek and neglected thing, of no renown ! 

Soon will peep forth the primrose, ere it fades 

Friends shall I have at dawn, blackbird and thrush 

To rouse me, and a hundred warblers more! 

And if those Eagles to their ancient hold 

Return, Helvellyn's Eagles! with the Pair 

From my own door I shall be free to claim 

Acquaintance, as they sweep from cloud to cloud. 

The owl that gives the name to Owlet-Crag- 

Have I heard whooping, and he soon will be 

A chosen one of my regards. See there 

The heifer in yon little croft belongs 

To one who holds it dear; with duteous care 

She reared it, and in speaking of her charge 

I heard her scatter some endearing words 

Domestic, and in spirit motherly. 

She being herself a mother; happy Beast, 

If the caresses of a human voice 

Can make it so, and care of human hands. 

And ye as happy under Nature's care, 
Strangers to me and all men, or at least 
Strangers to all particular amity, 
All intercourse of knowledge or of love 
That parts the individual from his kind. 
Whether in large communities ye keep 
f 235 1 


From year to year, not shunning man's abode, 
A settled residence, or be from far 
Wild creatures, and of many homes, that come 
The gift of winds, and whom the winds again 
Take from us at your pleasure; yet shall ye 
Not want for this your ow^n subordinate place 
In my affections. Witness the delight 
W^ith which erewhile I saw that multitude 
Wheel through the sky, and see them now at rest, 
Yet not at rest upon the glassy lake: 
They cannot rest — they gambol like young whelps; 
Active as lambs, and overcome with joy 
They try all frolic motions; flutter, plunge, 
And beat the passive water with their wings. 
Too distant are they for plain view, but lo! 
Those little fountains, sparkling in the sun. 
Betray their occupation, rising up 
First one and then another silver spout, 
As one or other takes the fit of glee, 
Fountains and spouts, yet somewhat in the guise 
Of plaything fireworks, that on festal nights 
Sparkle about the feet of wanton boys. 
— How vast the compass of this theatre, 
Yet nothing to be seen but lovely pomp 
And silent majesty; the birch-tree woods 
Are hung with thousand thousand diamond drops 
[ 2S6 1 


Of melted hoar-frost, every tiny knot 
In the bare twigs, each little budding-place 
Cased with its several beads; what myriads these 
Upon one tree, while all the distant grove, 
That rises to the summit of the steep, 
Shows like a mountain built of silver light: 
See yonder the same pageant, and again 
Behold the universal imagery 
Inverted, all its sun-bright features touched 
As with the varnish and the gloss of dreams. 
Dreamlike the blending also of the whole 
Harmonious landscape: all along the shore 
The boundary lost — the line invisible 
That parts the image from reality; 
And the clear hills, as high as they ascend 
Heavenward, so deep piercing the lake below. 
Admonished of the days of love to come 
The raven croaks, and fills the upper air 
With a strange sound of genial harmony; 
And in and all about that playful band. 
Incapable although they be of rest. 
And in their fashion very rioters. 
There is a stillness; and they seem to make 
Calm revelry in that their calm abode. 
Them leaving to their joyous hours I pass,» 
Pass with a thought the life of the whole year 
[ 237 1 


That is to come: the throng of woodland flowers 
And lilies that will dance upon the waves. 

Say boldly then that solitude is not 
Where these things are : he truly is alone. 
He of the multitude whose eyes are doomed 
To hold a vacant commerce day by day 
With Objects wanting life — repelling love; 
He by the vast metropolis immured. 
Where pity shrinks from unremitting calls. 
Where numbers overwhelm humanity, 
And neighbourhood serves rather to divide 
Than to unite — what sighs more deep than his. 
Whose nobler will hath long been sacrificed; 
Who must inhabit under a black sky 
A city, where, if indifference to disgust 
Yield not to scorn or sorrow, living men 
Are ofttimes to their fellow-men no more 
Than to the forest Hermit are the leaves 
That hang aloft in myriads; nay, far less. 
For they protect his walk from sun and shower. 
Swell his devotion with their voice in storms. 
And whisper while the stars twinkle among them 
His lullaby. From crowded streets remote. 
Far from the living and dead Wilderness 
Of the thronged world. Society is here 
A true community — a genuine frame 
[ 238 ] 


Of many into one incorporate. 

Thai must be looked for here: paternal sway. 

One household, under God, for high and low, 

One family and one mansion ; to themselves 

Appropriate, and divided from the world. 

As if it were a cave, a multitude 

Human and brute, possessors undisturbed 

Of this Recess — their legislative Hall, 

Their Temple, and their glorious Dwelling-place. 

Dismissing therefore all Arcadian dreams, 
All golden fancies of the golden age. 
The bright array of shadowy thoughts from times 
That were before all time, or are to be 
Ere time expire, the pageantry that stirs 
Or will be stirring, when our eyes are fixed 
On lovely objects, and we wish to part 
With all remembrance of a jarring world, 

— Take we at once this one sufficient hope. 
What need of more? that we shall neither droop 
Nor pine for want of pleasure in the life 
Scattered about us, nor through want of aught 
That keeps in health the insatiable mind. 

— That we shall have for knowledge and for love 
Abundance, and that feeling as we do 

How goodly, how exceeding fair, how pure 
From all reproach is yon ethereal vault, 
[ 239 ] 


And this deep Vale, its earthly counterpart, 
By which and under which we are enclosed 
To breathe in peace; we shall moreover find 
(If sound, and what we ought to be ourselves. 
If rightly we observe and justly weigh) 
The inmates not unworthy of their home, 
The Dwellers of their Dwelling. 

And if this 
Were otherwise, we have within ourselves 
Enough to fill the present day with joy, 
And overspread the future years with hope. 
Our beautiful and quiet home, enriched 
Already with a stranger whom we love 
Deeply, a stranger of our Father's house, 
A never-resting Pilgrim of the Sea, 
Who finds at last an hour to his content 
Beneath our roof. And others whom we love 
Will seek us also. Sisters of our hearts, 
And one, like them, a Brother of our hearts. 
Philosopher and Poet, in whose sight 
These mountains will rejoice with open joy. 
— Such is our wealth ! O Vale of Peace we are 
And must be, with God's will, a happy Band. 

Yet 't is not to enjoy that we exist, 
For that end only; something must be done: 
I must not walk in unreproved delight 
[ 240 1 


These narrow bounds, and think of nothing more, 
No duty that looks further, and no care. 
Each Being has his office, lowly some 
And common, yet all worthy if fulfilled 
With zeal, acknowledgment that with the gift 
Keeps pace a harvest answering to the seed. 
Of ill-advised Ambition and of Pride 
I would stand clear, but yet to me I feel 
That an internal brightness is vouchsafed 
That must not die, that must not pass away. 
Why does this inward lustre fondly seek 
And gladly blend with outward fellowship.^ 
Why do they shine around me whom I love? 
Why do they teach me, whom I thus revere? 
Strange question, yet it answers not itself. 
That humble Roof embowered among the trees. 
That cMm fireside, it is not even in them. 
Blest as they are, to furnish a reply 
That satisfies and ends in perfect rest. 
Possessions have I that are solely mine. 
Something within which yet is shared by none. 
Not even the nearest to me and most dear, 
Something which power and effort may impart; 
I would impart it, I would spread it wide: 
Immortal in the world which is to come — 
Forgive me if I add another claim — 
[ 241 1 


And would not wholly perish even in this. 
Lie down and be forgotten in the dust, 
I and the modest Partners of my days 
Making a silent company in death; 
Love, knowledge, all my manifold delights. 
All buried with me without monument 
Or profit unto any but ourselves ! 
It must not be, if I, divinely taught. 
Be privileged to speak as I have felt 
Of what in man is human or divine. 

While yet an innocent little one, with a heart 
That doubtless wanted not its tender moods, 
I breathed (for this I better recollect) 
Among wild appetites and blind desires. 
Motions of savage instinct my delight 
And exaltation. Nothing at that time 
So welcome, no temptation half so dear 
As that which urged me to a daring feat, 
Deep pools, tall trees, black chasms, and dizzy crags, 
And tottering towers : I loved to stand and read 
Their looks forbidding, read and disobey. 
Sometimes in act and evermore in thought. 
With impulses, that scarcely were by these 
Surpassed in strength, I heard of danger met 
Or sought with courage; enterprise forlorn 
By one, sole keeper of his own intent, 
[ 242 1 


Or by a resolute few, who for the sake 
Of glory fronted multitudes in arms. 
Yea, to this hour I cannot read a Tale 
Of two brave vessels matched in deadly fight. 
And fighting to the death, but I am pleased 
More than a wise man ought to be; I wish. 
Fret, burn, and struggle, and in soul am there. 
But me hath Nature tamed, and bade to seek 
For other agitations, or be calm; 
Hath dealt with me as with a turbulent stream. 
Some nursling of the mountains which she leads 
Through quiet meadows, after he has learnt 
His strength, and had his triumph and his joy, 
Wis desperate course of tumult and of glee. 
That which in stealth by Nature was performed 
Hath Reason sanctioned: her deliberate Voice 
Hath said; be mild, and cleave to gentle things, 
Thy glory and thy happiness be there. 
Nor fear, though thou confide in me, a want 
Of aspirations that have been — of foes 
To wrestle with, and victory to complete, 
Bounds to be leapt, darkness to be explored; 
All that inflamed thy infant heart, the love. 
The longing, the contempt, the undaunted quest, 
/ All shall survive, though changed their oflSce, all 
Shall live, it is not in their power to die. 
f 243 1 



Then farewell to the Warrior's Schemes, farewell 
The forwardness of soul which looks that way 
Upon a less incitement than the Cause 
Of Liberty endangered, and farewell 
That other hope, long mine, the hope to fill 
The heroic trumpet with the Muse's breath! 
Yet in this peaceful Vale we will not spend 
Unheard-of days, though loving peaceful thought, 
A voice shall speak, and what will be the theme? 

On Man, on Nature, and on Human Life, 
Musing in solitude, I oft perceive 
Fair trains of imagery before me rise. 
Accompanied by feelings of delight 
Pure, or with no unpleasing sadness mixed; 
And I am conscious of affecting thoughts 
And dear remembrances, whose presence soothes 
Or elevates the Mind, intent to weigh 
The good and evil of our mortal state. 
— To these emotions, whencesoe'er they come. 
Whether from breath of outward circumstance, 
Or from the Soul — an impulse to herself — 
I would give utterance in numerous verse. 
Of Truth, of Grandeur, Beauty, Love, and Hope, 
And melancholy Fear subdued by Faith; 
Of blessed consolations in distress; 
Of moral strength, and intellectual Power; 
[ 244 1 


Of joy in widest commonalty spread; 

Of the individual Mind that keeps her own 

Inviolate retirement, subject there 

To Conscience only, and the law supreme 

Of that Intelligence which governs all — 

I sing: — "fit audience let me find though few!" 

So prayed, more gaining than he asked, the Bard - 
In holiest mood. Urania, I shall need 
Thy guidance, or a greater Muse, if such 
Descend to earth or dwell in highest heaven ! 
For I must tread on shadowy ground, must sink 
Deep — and, aloft ascending, breathe in worlds 
To which the heaven of heavens is but a veil. 
All strength — all terror, single or in bands, 
That ever was put forth in personal form — 
Jehovah — with his thunder, and the choir 
Of shouting Angels, and the empyreal thrones — 
I pass them unalarmed. Not Chaos, not 
The darkest pit of lowest Erebus, 
Nor aught of blinder vacancy, scooped out 
By help of dreams — can breed such fear and awe 
As fall upon us often when we look 
Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man — 
My haunt, and the main region of my song 
— Beauty — a living Presence of the earth. 
Surpassing the most fair ideal Forms 
I 245 ] 


Which craft of deUcate Spirits hath composed 
From earth's materials — waits upon my steps; 
Pitches her tents before me as I move, 
An hourly neighbour. Paradise, and groves 
Elysian, Fortunate Fields — like those of old 
Sought in the Atlantic Main — why should they be 
A history only of departed things. 
Or a mere fiction of what never was? 
For the discerning intellect of Man, 
When wedded to this goodly universe 
In love and holy passion, shall find these 
A simple produce of the common day. 
— I, long before the blissful hour arrives, 
Would chant, in lonely peace, the spousal verse 
Of this great consummation : — and, by words 
Which speak of nothing more than what we are. 
Would I arouse the sensual from their sleep 
Of Death, and win the vacant and the vain 
To noble raptures; while my voice proclaims 
How exquisitely the individual Mind 
(And the progressive powers perhaps no less 
Of the whole species) to the external World 
Is fitted : — and how exquisitely, too — 
Theme this but little heard of among men — • 
The external World is fitted to the Mind; 
And the creation (by no lower name 
[ 24() ] 


Can it be called) which they with blended might 
Accomplish : — this is our high argument. 
— Such grateful haunts foregoing, if I oft 
Must turn elsewhere — to travel near the tribes 
And fellowships of men, and see ill sights 
Of madding passions mutually inflamed; 
Must hear Humanity in fields and groves 
Pipe sohtary anguish; or must hang 
Brooding above the fierce confederate storm 
Of sorrow, barricadoed evermore 
Within the walls of cities — may these sounds 
Have their authentic comment; that even these 
Hearing, I be not downcast or forlorn ! — 
Descend, prophetic Spirit! that inspir'st * 
The human Soul of universal earth, 
Dreaming on things to come; and dost possess 
A metropolitan temple in the hearts 
Of mighty Poets; upon me bestow 
A gift of genuine insight; that my Song 
With star-like virtue in its place may shine, 
Shedding benignant influence, and secure 
Itself from all malevolent effect 
Of those mutations that extend their sway 
Throughout the nether sphere ! — And if with this 
I mix more lowly matter; with the thing 
Contemplated, describe the mind and Man 
[ 247 ] 


Contemplating; and who, and what he was — 

The transitory Being that beheld 

This Vision; — when and where, and how he Hved; 

Be not this labour useless. If such theme 

May sort with highest objects, then — dread Power! 

Whose gracious favour is the primal source 

Of all illumination — may my Life 

Express the image of a better time, 

More wise desires, and simpler manners; — nurse 

My Heart in genuine freedom : — all pure thoughts 

Be with me ; — so shall thy unf aihng love 

Guide, and support, and cheer me to the end I 


1800 1800 

This poem was composed in a grove at the north-eastern 
end of Grasmere lake, which grove was in a great measure de- 
stroyed by turning the high-road along the side of the water. 
The few trees that are left were spared at my intercession. 
The poem arose out of the fact, mentioned to me at Enncr- 
dale, that a shepherd had fallen asleep upon the top of the rock 
called The Pillar, and perished as here described, his staff 
being left midway on the rock. 

"These Tourists, heaven preserve us! needs must live 

A profitable life: some glance along, 

Rapid and gay, as if the earth were air. 

And they were butterflies to wheel about 

Long as the summer lasted: some, as wise, 

Perched on the forehead of a jutting crag. 

Pencil in hand and book upon the knee, 

Will look and scribble, scribble on and look. 

Until a man might travel twelve stout miles, 

Or reap an acre of his neighbour's corn. 

But, for that moping Son of Idleness, 

Why can he tarry yonder ? — In our churchyard 

Is neither epitaph nor monument. 

Tombstone nor name — only the turf we tread 

And a few natural graves." 

f 249 1 


To Jane, his wife. 
Thus spake the homely Priest of Ennerdale. 
It was a July evening; and he sate 
Upon the long stone-seat beneath the eaves 
Of his old cottage, — as it chanced, that day. 
Employed in winter's work. Upon the stone 
His wife sate near him, teasing matted wool, 
While, from the twin cards toothed with glittering wire, 
He fed the spindle of his youngest child. 
Who, in the open air, with due accord 
Of busy hands and back-and-forward steps 
Her large round wheel was turning. Towards the field 
In which the Parish Chapel stood alone, 
Girt round with a bare ring of mossy wall, 
While half an hour went by, the Priest had sent 
Many a long look of wonder: and at last. 
Risen from his seat, beside the snow-white ridge 
Of carded wool which the old man had piled 
He laid his implements with gentle care, 
Each in the other locked; and, down the path 
That from his cottage to the churchyard led, 
He took his way, impatient to accost 
The Stranger, whom he saw still lingering there. 
'T was one well known to him in former days, 
A Shepherd-lad; who ere his sixteenth year 
Had left that calling, tempted to entrust 
[ 250 1 


His expectations to the fickle winds 

And perilous waters; with the mariners 

A fellow-mariner; — and so had fared 

Through twenty seasons; but he had been reared 

Among the mountains, and he in his heart 

Was half a shepherd on the stormy seas. 

Oft in the piping shrouds had Leonard heard 

The tones of waterfalls, and inland sounds 

Of caves and trees : — and, when the regular wind 

Between the tropics filled the steady sail, 

And blew with the same breath through days and weeks. 

Lengthening invisibly its weary line 

Along the cloudless Main, he, in those hours 

Of tiresome indolence, would often hang 

Over the vessel's side, and gaze and gaze; 

And, while the broad blue wave and sparkling foam 

Flashed round him images and hues that wrought 

In union with the employment of his heart. 

He, thus by feverish passion overcome. 

Even with the organs of his bodily eye, 

Below him, in the bosom of the deep. 

Saw mountains; saw the forms of sheep that grazed 

On verdant hills — with dwellings among trees, 

And shepherds clad in the same country grey 

Which he himself had worn.^ 

And now, at last, 
r 251 1 


From perils manifold, with some small wealth 
Acquired by traffic 'mid the Indian Isles, 
To his paternal home he is returned, 
With a determined purpose to resume 
The life he had lived there; both for the sake 
Of many darling pleasures, and the love 
Which to an only brother he has borne 
In all his hardships, since that happy time 
When, whether it blew foul or fair, they two 
Were brother-shepherds on their native hills. 
— They were the last of all their race : and now% 
When Leonard had approached his home, his heart 
Failed in him; and, not venturing to enquire 
Tidings of one so long and dearly loved. 
He to the solitary churchyard turned; 
That, as he knew in what particular spot 
His family were laid, he thence might learn 
If still his Brother lived or to the file 
Another grave was added. — He had found 
Another grave, — near which a full half -hour 
He had remained; but, as he gazed, there grew 
Such a confusion in his memory. 
That he began to doubt; and even to hope 
That he had seen this heap of turf before, — 
That it was not another grave; but one 
He had forgotten. He had lost his path, 
[ 252 ] 


As up the vale, that afternoon, he walked 

Through fields which once had been well known to him: 

And oh what joy this recollection now 

Sent to his heart ! he lifted up his eyes, 

And, looking round, imagined that he saw 

Strange alteration wrought on every side 

Among the woods and fields, and that the rocks. 

And everlasting hills themselves were changed. 

By this the Priest, who down the field had come, 
Unseen by Leonard, at the churchyard gate 
Stopped short, — and thence, at leisure, limb by limb 
Perused him with a gay complacency. 
Ay, thought the Vicar, smiling to himself, 
'T is one of those who needs must leave the path! J 
Of the world's business tG» go wild alone : \ 

His arms have a perpetual li/)liday; 
The happy man will creep about the fields. 
Following his fancies by the hour, bring 
Tears down his cheek, or solitary smj^os' 
Into his face, until the setting sun 
Write fool upon his forehead. — Planted thus 
Beneath a shed that over-arched the gate 
Of this rude churchyard, till the stars appeared 
The good Man might have communed with himself, 
But that the Stranger, who had left the grave. 
Approached; he recognised the Priest at once, 
[ 253 ] 


And, after greetings interchanged, and given 
By Leonard to the Vicar as to one 
Unknown to him, this dialogue ensued. 

Leonard. You live, Sir, in these dales, a quiet life: 
Your years make up one peaceful family; 
And who would grieve and fret, if, welcome come 
And welcome gone, they are so like each other. 
They cannot be remembered? Scarce a funeral 
Comes to this churchyard once in eighteen months; 
And yet, some changes must take place a^^ .u.^ you: 
And you, who dwell here, even amo^ .:?: these rockf'. 
Can trace the finger of morta^'- . 
And see, that with our * • reescore 
We are not all tb' 
(For manv 

a that dark cleft! 
To roe it .r the face 

Nay, Sir, for aught I know, 
- is much the same — 
.card. But, surely, yonder — ■ 

Priest. Ay, there, indeed, your memory is a friend 
That does not play you false. — On that tall pike 
(It is the loneliest place of all these hills) 
There were two springs which bubbled side by side, 
[ 254 1 


As if they had been made that they might be 

Companions for each other: the huge crag 

Was rent with lightning — one hath disappeared; 

The other, left behind, is flowing still. 

For accidents and changes such as these, 

We want not store of them ; — a water-spout 

Will bring dow^n half a mountain; what a feast 

For folks that wander up and down like you 

To see an acre's breadth of that wide cliff 

One roaring cataract ! a sharp May-storm 

Will come with loads of January snow. 

And in one night send twenty score of sheep 

To feed the ravens; or a shepherd dies 

By some untoward death among the rocks : 

The ice breaks up and sweeps away a bridge; 

A wood is felled: — and then for our own homes! 

A child is born or christened, a field ploughed, 

A daughter sent to service, a web spun. 

The old house-clock is decked with a new face; 

And hence, so far from wanting facts or dates 

To chronicle the time, we all have here 

A pair of diaries, — one serving. Sir, : '♦ 

For the whole dale, and one for each fireside — 

Yours was a stranger's judgment: for historians. 

Commend me to these valleys! 

Leonard. Yet your Churchyard 

[ 255 ] 


Seems, if such freedom may be used with you, 
To say that you are heedless of the past: 
An orphan could not find his mother's grave: 
Here's neither head nor foot stone, plate of brass. 
Cross-bones nor skull, — type of our earthly state 
Nor emblem of our hopes: the dead man's home 
Is but a fellow to that pasture-field. 

Priest. Why, there, Sir, is a thought that's new to me! 
The stone-cutters, 't is true, might beg their bread 
If every English churchyard were like ours; 
Yet your conclusion wanders from the truth: 
We have no need of names and epitaphs; 
We talk about the dead by our firesides. ^ 
And then, for our immortal part ! we want 
No symbols. Sir, to tell us that plain tale: 
The thought of death sits easy on the man \ 
Who has been born and dies among the mountains. 

Leonard. Your Dalesmen, then, do in each other's 

\^:'5ses3 a iuLi> ■ .bt 

.1. Q'- -Ml.' .v; 

r eight-score winters past, 
V,x. I've heard, 

Perhaps I might; and, on a wintcr-evenmg. 
If you were seated at my chimney's nook, 
[ 256 ] 


By turning o'er these hillocks one by one, 

We two could travel, Sir, through a strange round; 

Yet all in the broad highway of the world. 

Now there 's a grave — your foot is half upon it, — 

It looks just like the rest; and yet that man 

Died broken-hearted. 

Leonard. 'T is a common case. 

We'll take another: who is he that lies 
Beneath yon ridge, the last of those three graves? 
It touches on that piece of native rock 
Left in the churchyard w^all. 

Priest. That 's Walter Ewbank. 

He had as white a head and fresh a cheek 
As ever w ere produced by youth and age 
Engendering in the blood of hale fourscore. 
Through five long generations had the heart 
Of Walter's forefathers o'erflow ed the bounds 
Of their inheritance, that single cottage — 
You see it yonder! and those few green fields. 
They toiled and wrought, and still, fr'^m nre to son, 
Each struggled, and each yielded aj^oei^.e 
A little — yet a little, — and old Walter, 
They left to him the family heart, and land 
With other burthens than the crop it bore. 
Year after year the old man still kept up 
A cheerful mind, — and buffeted with bond, 
[ 257 1 


Interest, and mortgages; at last he sank, 

And went into his grave before his time. 

Poor Walter! whether it was care that spurred him 

God only knows, but to the very last 

He had the lightest foot in Ennerdale: 

His pace was never that of an old man: 

I almost see him tripping down the path 

With his two grandsons after him : — but you. 

Unless our Landlord be your host to-night. 

Have far to travel, — and on these rough paths 

Even in the longest day of midsummer — 

Leonard, But those two Orphans! 

Priest. Orphans! — Such they were — 

Yet not while Walter lived: for, though their parents 
Lay buried side by side as now they lie, 
The old man was a father to the boys. 
Two fathers in one father : and if tears. 
Shed when he talked of them where they were not. 
And hauntings from the infirmity of love. 
Are aught of whqt rafikr^ ii, i mothei ' heart, 
I'j.i.. ^.a :vl.:n, i.. the day '■ ■ - •>'!-i a> ■ 
Was half r rnother to \\\e\ ■ -ep. Sir, 

±o near a stranger talking about strangers, 
Heaven bless you when you are among your kindred! 
Ay — you may turn that way — it is a grave 
Which will bear looking at. 

[258 ] 


Leonard. These boys — I hope 

They loved this good old Man? — 

Priest. They did — and truly : 

But that was what we almost overlooked. 
They were such darlings of each other. Yes, 
Though from the cradle they had lived with Walter, 
The only kinsman near them, and though he 
Inclined to both by reason of his age, 
With a more fond, familiar, tenderness; 
They, notwithstanding, had much love to spare, 
And it all went into each other's hearts. 
Leonard, the elder by just eighteen months. 
Was two years taller : 't was a joy to see. 
To hear, to meet them ! — From their house the school 
Is distant three short miles, and in the time 
Of storm and thaw, when every watercourse 
And unbridged stream, such as you may have noticed 
Crossing our roads at every hundred steps. 
Was swoln into a noisy rivulet. 
Would Leonard then, when elder boys remained 
At home, go staggering through the slippery fords, 
Bearing his brother on his back. I have seen him, 
On windy days, in one of those stray brooks. 
Ay, more than once I have seen him, mid-leg deep. 
Their two books lying both on a dry stone. 
Upon the hither side: and once I said, 
[ 259 ] 


As I remember, looking round these rocks 
And hills on which we all of us were born, 
That God who made the great book of the world 
Would bless such piety — 

Leonard. It may be then — 

Priest. Never did worthier lads break English bread: 
The very brightest Sunday Autumn saw 
With all its mealy clusters of ripe nuts. 
Could never keep those boys away from church, 
Or tempt them to an hour of sabbath breach. 
Leonard and James! I warrant, every corner 
Among these rocks, and every hollow place 
That venturous foot could reach, to one or both 
Was known as well as to the flowers that grow there. 
Like roe-bucks they went bounding o'er the hills; 
They played like two young ravens on the crags: 
Then they could write, ay and speak too, as well 
As many of their betters — and for Leonard ! 
The very night before he went away, 
In my own house I put into his hand 
A Bible, and I'd wager house and field 
That, if he be alive, he has it yet. 

Leonard. It seems, these Brothers have not lived to 
A comfort to each other — 

Priest. That they might 

[ 260 1 



Live to such end is what both old and young 
In this our valley all of us have wished, 
And what, for my part, I have often prayed: 
But Leonard — 

Leonard. Then James still is left among you ! 

Priest. 'T is of the elder brother I am speaking: 
They had an uncle ; — he was at that time 
A thriving man, and trafficked on the seas: 
And, but for that same uncle, to this hour 
Leonard had never handled rope or shroud: 
For the boy loved the life which we lead here; 
And though of unripe years, a stripling only. 
His soul was knit to this his native soil. 
But, as I said, old Walter was too weak 
To strive with such a torrent; when he died. 
The estate and house were sold; and all their sheep, 
A pretty flock, and which, for aught I know. 
Had clothed the Ewbanks for a thousand years: — 
Well — all was gone, and they were destitute, 
And Leonard, chiefly for his Brother's sake, 
Resolved to try his fortune on the seas. 
Twelve years are past since we had tidings from him. 
If there were one among us who had heard 
That Leonard Ewbank was come home again. 
From the Great Gavel, down by Leeza's bauks,^ 
And down the Enna, far as Egremont, 
f 261 1 


The day would be a joyous festival; 

And those two bells of ours, which there you see — 

Hanging in the open air — but, O good Sir! 

This is sad talk — they'll never sound for him — 

Living or dead. — When last we heard of him, 

He was in slavery among the Moors 

Upon the Barbary coast. — 'T was not a little 

That would bring down his spirit ; and no doubt, 

Before it ended in his death, the Youth 

Was sadly crossed. — Poor Leonard! when we parted, 

He took me by the hand, and said to me. 

If e'er he should grow rich, he would return, 

To live in peace upon his father's land. 

And lay his bones among us. 

Leonard. If that day 

Should come, 'twould needs be a glad day for him; 
He would himself, no doubt, be happy then 
As any that should meet him — 

Priest. Happy! Sir — 

Leonard. You said his kindred all were in their graves^ 
And that he had one Brother — 

Priest. That is but 

A fellow-tale of sorrow. From his youth 
James, though not sickly, yet was delicate; 
And Leonard being always by his side 
,IIad done so many offices about him, 
[ 262 ] 


That, though he was not of a timid nature. 
Yet still the spirit of a mountain-boy 
In him was somewhat checked; and, when his Brother 
Was gone to sea, and he was left alone. 
The little colour that he had was soon 
Stolen from his cheek; he drooped, and pined, and 
pined — 
Leonard. But these are all the graves of full-grown 


Priest. Ay, Sir, that passed away: we took him to us; 
He was the child of all the dale — he lived 
Three months with one, and six months with another. 
And wanted neither food, nor clothes, nor love: 
And many, many happy days were his. 
But, whether blithe or sad, 't is my belief 
His absent Brother still was at his heart. 
And, when he dwelt beneath our roof, we found 
(A practice till this time unknown to him) 
That often, rising from his bed at night, 
He in his sleep would walk about, and sleeping 
He sought his brother Leonard. — You are moved" 
Forgive me. Sir: before I spoke to you, 
I judged you most unkindly. 

Leonard. But this Youth, 

How did he die at last? 

Priest. One sweet May-morning, 

1 263 ] 


(It will be twelve years since when Spring returns) 
He had gone forth among the new-dropped lambs. 
With two or three companions, whom their course 
Of occupation led from height to height 
Under a cloudless sun — till he, at length, 
Through weariness, or, haply, to indulge 
The humour of the moment, lagged behind. 
You see yon precipice; — it wears the shape 
Of a vast building made of many crags; 
And in the midst is one particular rock 
That rises like a column from the vale. 
Whence by our shepherds it is called. The Pillar. 
Upon its aery summit crowned with heath. 
The loiterer, not unnoticed by his comrades. 
Lay stretched at ease; but, passing by the place 
On their return, they found that he was gone. 
No ill was feared; till one of them by chance 
Entering, when evening was far spent, the house 
Which at that time was James's home, there learned 
That nobody had seen him all that day: 
The morning came, and still he was unheard of: 
The neighbours were alarmed, and to the brook 
Some hastened ; some ran to the lake : ere noon 
They found him at the foot of that same rock 
Dead, and with mangled limbs. The third day after 
I buried him, poor Youth, and there he lies! 
[ 264 ] 


Leonard. And that then is his grave! — Before his 
You say that he saw many happy years? 

Priest. Ay, that he did — 

Leonard. And all went well with him? — 

Priest. If he had one, the Youth had twenty homes. 

Leonard. And you believe, then, that his mind was 
easy? — 

Priest. Yes, long before he died, he found that time 
Is a true friend to sorrow; and unless 
His thoughts were turned on Leonard's luckless fortune. 
He talked about him with a cheerful love. 

Leonard. He could not come to an unhallowed end! 

Priest, Nay, God forbid! — You recollect I mentioned 
A habit which disquietude and grief 
Had brought upon him; and we all conjectured 
That, as the day was warm, he had lain down 
On the soft heath, — and, waiting for his comrades, 
He there had fallen asleep; that in his sleep 
He to the margin of the precipice 

Had walked, and from th^ summit had fallen headlong: 
And so no doubt he perished. When the Youth 
Fell, in his hand he must have grasped, we think, 
His shepherd's staff; for on that Pillar of rock 
It had been caught mid-way; and there for years 
It hung; — and mouldered there, 
f 265 1 


The Priest here ended — 
The Stranger would have thanked him, but he felt 
A gushing from his heart, that took away 
The power of speech. Both left the spot in silence; 
And Leonard, when they reached the churchyard gate. 
As the Priest lifted up the latch, turned round, — 
And, looking at the grave, he said, "My Brother!'* 
./The Vicar did not hear the words : and now, 
He pointed towards his dwelling-place, entreating' 
That Leonard would partake his homely fare: 
The other thanked him with an earnest voice; 
But added, that, the evening being calm, 
He would pursue his journe3^ So they parted. 
It was not long ere Leonard reached a grove 
That overhung the road : he there stopped short. 
And, sitting down beneath the trees, reviewed 
All that the Priest had said: his early years 
Were with him : — his long absence, cherished hopes. 
And thoughts which had been his an hour before. 
All pressed on him with such a weight, that now, 
f This vale, where he had been so happy, seemed 
j A place in which he could not bear to live: 
So he relinquished all his purposes. 
He travelled back to Egremont: and thence, 
That night, he wrote a letter to the Priest, 
Reminding him of what had passed between them; 
[ 266 1 



And adding, with a hope to be forgiven, 
That it was from the weakness of his heart 
He had not dared to tell him who he was. 
This done, he went on shipboard, and is now 
A Seaman, a grey-headed Mariner. 


1800 1800 

Written at Town-end, Grasmere, about the same time as 
**The Brothers." The Sheepfold, on which so much of the 
poem turns, remains, or rather the ruins of it. The character 
and circumstances of Luke were taken from a family to whom 
had belonged, many years before, the house we lived in at 
Town-end, along with some fields and woodlands on the east- 
ern shore of Grasmere. The name of the Evening Star was 
not in fact given to this house, but to another on the same side 
of the valley, more to the north. 

If from the public way you turn your steps 
Up the tumultuous brook of Greenhead Ghyll, 
You will suppose that with an upright path 
Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent 
The pastoral mountains front you, face to face. 
But, courage! for around that boisterous brook 

iThe mountains have all opened out themselves. 
And made a hidden valley of their own. 
No habitation can be seen; but they 
Who journey thither find themselves alone 
With a few sheep, with rocks and stones, and kites 
That overhead are sailing in the sky. 
It is in truth an utter solitude; I 

[ 268 ] 



Nor should I have made mention of this Dell 
But for one object which you might pass by. 
Might see and notice not. Beside the brook 
Appears a straggling heap of unhewn stones! / 
And to that simple object appertains 
A story — unenriched with strange events. 
Yet not unfit, I deem, for the fireside, 
Or for the summer shade. It was the first 
Of those domestic tales that spake to me 
Of shepherds, dwellers in the valleys, men 
Whom I already loved; not verily 
For their own sakes, but for the fields and hills 
Where was their occupation and abode. 
And hence this Tale, while I was yet a Boy 
Careless of books, yet having felt the power 
Of Nature, by the gentle agency 
Of natural objects, led me on to feel 
For passions that were not my own, and think 
(At random and imperfectly indeed) 
On man, the heart of man, and human life. 
Therefore, although it be a history 
Homely and rude, I will relate the same 
For the delight of a few natural hearts; 
And, with yet fonder feeling, for the sake 
Of youthful Poets, who among these hills 
Will be my second self when I am gone. 
[ 269 ] 


Upon the forest-side in Grasmere Vale 
There dwelt a Shepherd, Michael was his name; 
An old man, stout of heart, and strong of limb. 
His bodily frame had been from youth to age 
Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen, , 
Intense, and frugal, apt for all affairs, 
And in his shepherd's calling he was prompt 
And watchful more than ordinary men. 
Hence had he learned the meaning of all winds. 
Of blasts of every tone; and, oftentimes. 
When others heeded not. He heard the South ^/ __ 
Make subterraneous music, like the noise 
Of bagpipers on distant Highland hills. 
The Shepherd, at such warning, of his flock 
Bethought him, and he to himself would say, 
**The winds are now devising work for me!" 
And, truly, at all times, the storm, that drives 
The traveller to a shelter, summoned him 
Up to the mountains: he had been alone 
Amid the heart of many thousand mists. 
That came to him, and left him, on the heights. 
So lived he till his eightieth year was past. 
/ And grossly that man errs, who should suppose 
I That the green valleys, and the streams and rocks, 
\Were things indifferent to the Shepherd's thoughts. 
Fields, where with cheerful spirits he had breathed 
[ 270 1 


The common air; hills, which with vigorous step 

He had so often climbed; which had impressed 

So many incidents upon his mind 

Of hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear; 

Which, like a book, preserved the memory 

Of the dumb animals, whom he had saved. 

Had fed or sheltered, linking to such acts 

The certainty of honourable gain; 

Those fields, those hills — -iWhat could they less? had 

Strong hold on his affections, were to him 
A pleasurable feeling of blind love, 
The pleasure which there is in life itself. 

His days had not been passed in singleness. 
His Helpmate was a comely matron, old — 
Though younger than himself full twenty years. 
She was a woman of a stirring life. 
Whose heart was in her house : two wheels she had 
Of antique form; this large, for spinning wool; 
That small, for flax; and if one wheel had rest 
It was because the other was at work. 
The Pair had but one inmate in their house. 
An only Child, who had been born to them 
When Michael, telling o'er his years, began 
To deem that he was old, — in shepherd's phrase, 
With one foot in the grave. This only Son, 
[ 271 ] 


With two brave sheep-dogs tried in many a storm, 

The one of an inestimable worth, 

Made all their household. I may truly say, 

That they were as a proverb in the vale 

For endless industry. When day was gone. 

And from their occupations out of doors 

The Son and Father were come home, even then, 

Their labour did ^ot cease : unless when all 

Turned to the cleanly supper-board, and there. 

Each with a mess of pottage and skimmed milk. 

Sat round the basket piled with oaten cakes. 

And their plain home-made cheese. Yet when the meal 

Was ended, Luke (for so the Son was named) 

And his old Father both betook themselves. 

To such convenient work as might employ 

Their hands by the fireside; perhaps to card 

Wool for the Housewife's spindle, or repair 

Some injury done to sickle, flail, or scythe. 

Or other implement of house or field. 

Down from the ceiling, by the chimney's edge. 
That in our ancient uncouth^country style 
With huge and black projection overbrowed 
Large space beneath, as duly as the light 
Of day grew dim the Housewife hung a lamp; 
An aged utensil, which had performed 
Service beyond all others of its kind. 
[ 272 ] 


Early at evening did it burn — and late. 

Surviving comrade of uncounted hours. 

Which, going by from year to year, had found. 

And left, the couple neither gay perhaps 

Nor cheerful, yet with objects and with hopes. 

Living a life of eager industry. 

And now, when Luke had reached his eighteenth year. 

There by the light of this old lamp they sate. 

Father and Son, while far into the night 

The Housewife plied her own peculiar work„ 

Making the cottage through the silent hours. 

Murmur as with the sound of summer flies. • 

This light was famous in its neighbourhood,. 

And was a public symbol of the life 

That thrifty Pair had lived. For, as it chanced. 

Their cottage on a plot of rising ground 

Stood single, with large prospect, north and south,, 

High into Easedale, up to> Dunmail-Raise, 

And westward to the village near the lake; 

And from this constant light, so regular 

And so far seen, the House itself, by all 

Who dwelt within the limits, of the vale,. 

Both old and young, was named The Eveningt Stak. 

Thus living on through such a length of years. 
The Shepherd, if he loved himself,, must needs 
Have loved his Helpmate; but to- Michael's heart 
t 273 1. 


This son of his old age was yet more dear — 

Less from instinctive tenderness, the same 

Fond spirit that blindly works in the blood of all — 

Than that a child, more than all other gifts 

That earth can offer to declining man, ' 

Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts, 

And stirrings of inquietude, when they 

By tendency of nature needs must fail. 

Exceeding was the love he bare to him. 

His heart and his heart's joy ! For oftentimes 

Old Michael, while he was a babe in arms, 

Had done him female service, not alone 

For pastime and delight, as is the use 

Of fathers, but with patient mind enforced 

To acts of tenderness; and he had rocked 

His cradle, as with a woman's gentle hand. 

And, in a later time, ere yet the Boy 
Had put on boy's attire, did Michael love, 
Albeit of a stern unbending mind. 
To have the Young-one in his sight, when he 
Wrought in the field, or on his shepherd's stool 
Sate with a fettered sheep before him stretched 
Under the large old oak, that near his door 
Stood single, and, from matchless depth of shade. 
Chosen for the Shearer's covert from the sun, 
Thence in our rustic dialect was called 
[ 274 ] 


The Clipping Tree/ a name which yet it bears. 
There, while they two were sitting in the shade. 
With others round them, earnest all and blithe. 
Would Michael exercise his heart with looks 
Of fond correction and reproof bestowed 
Upon the Child, if he disturbed the sheep 
By catching at their legs, or with his shouts 
Scared them, while they lay still beneath the shears. 

And when by Heaven's good grace the boy grew up 
A healthy Lad, and carried in his cheek 
Two steady roses that were five years old; 
Then Michael from a winter coppice cut 
With his own hand a sapling, which he hooped 
With iron, making it throughout in all 
Due requisites a perfect shepherd's staff. 
And gave it to the Boy; wherewith equipt 
He as a watchman oftentimes was placed 
At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock; 
And, to his office prematurely called. 
There stood the urchin, as you will divine. 
Something between a hindrance and a help; 
And for this cause not always, I believe, 
Receiving from his Father hire of praise; 
Though nought was left undone which staff, or voice, 
Or looks, or threatening gestures, could perform. 

But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could stand 
[ 275 1 


Against the mountain blasts; and to the heights. 
Not fearing toil, nor length of weary ways, 
He with his Father daily went, and they 
Were as companions, why should I relate 
That objects which the Shepherd loved before 
Were dearer now? that from the Boy there came 
Feelings and emanations — things which were 
Light to the sun and music to the wind; 
And that the old Man's heart seemed born again? 

Thus in his Father's sight the Boy grew up : 
And now, when he had reached his eighteenth year. 
He was his comfort and his daily hope. 

Wliile in this sort the simple household lived 
From day to day, to Michael's ear there came 
Distressful tidings. Long before the time 
Of which I speak, the Shepherd had been bound 
In surety for his brother's son, a man 
Of an industrious life, and ample means; 
But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly 
Had prest upon him; and old Michael now 
Was summoned to discharge the forfeiture, 
A grievous penalty, but little less 
Than half his substance. This unlooked-for claim, 
At the first hearing, for a moment took 
More hope out of his life than he supposed 
That any old man ever could have lost. 
[ 276 ] 


As soon as he had armed himself with strength 
To look his trouble in the face, it seemed 
The Shepherd's sole resource to sell at once 
A portion of his patrimonial fields. 
Such was his first resolve; he thought again, 
And his heart failed him, "Isabel,'* said he, 
Two evenings after he had heard the news, 
'I have been toiling more than seventy years, 
And in the open sunshine of God's love 
Have we all lived; yet if these fields of ours 
Should pass into a stranger's hand, I think 
That I could not lie quiet in my grave. 
Our lot is a hard lot; the sun himself 
Has scarcely been more diligent than I; 
And I have lived to be a fool at last 
To my own family. An evil man 
That was, and made an evil choice, if he 
Were false to us; and if he were not false, 
There are ten thousand to whom loss like this 
Had been no sorrow. I forgive him ; — but 
'T were better to be dumb than to talk thus. 
*'When I began, my purpose was to speak 
Of remedies and of a cheerful hope. 
Our Luke shall leave us, Isabel; the land 
Shall not go from us, and it shall be free; 
He shall possess it, free as is the wind 
[ 277 ] 


That passes over it. We have, thou know'st. 
Another kinsman — he will be our friend 
In this distress. He is a prosperous man, 
Thriving in trade — and Luke to him shall go, 
And with his kinsman's help and his own thrift 
He quickly will repair this loss, and then 
He may return to us. If here he stay, 
What can be done.'* Where every one is poor. 
What can be gained?" 

At this the old Man paused. 
And Isabel sat silent, for her mind 
Was busy, looking back into past times. 
There 's Richard Bateman, thought she to herself. 
He was a parish-boy — at the church-door 
They made a gathering for him, shillings, pence 
And halfpennies, wherewith the neighbours bought 
A basket, which they filled with pedlar's wares; 
And, with this basket on his arm, the lad 
Went up to London, found a master there. 
Who, out of many, chose the trusty boy 
To go and overlook his merchandise 
Beyond the seas; where he grew wondrous rich, 
And left estates and monies to the poor. 
And, at his birth-place, built a chapel, floored 
With marble which he sent from foreign lands. 
These thoughts, and many others of like sort, 
[278 ] 


Passed quickly through the mind of Isabel, 
And her face brightened. The old Man was glad, 
And thus resumed: — "Well, Isabel! this scheme 
These two days, has been meat and drink to me. 
Far more than we have lost is left us yet. 

— We have enough — I wish indeed that I 
Were younger; — but this hope is a good hope. 

— Make ready Luke's best garments, of the best 
Buy for him more, and let us send him forth 
To-morrow, or the next day, or to-night : 

— If he could go, the Boy should go to-night." 
Here Michael ceased, and to the fields went forth 

With a light heart. The Housewife for five days 
Was restless morn and night, and all day long 
Wrought on with her best fingers to prepare 
Things needful for the journey of her son. 
But Isabel was glad when Sunday came 
To stop her in her work : for, when she lay 
By Michael's side, she through the last two nights 
Heard him, how he was troubled in his sleep: 
And when they rose at morning she could see 
That all his hopes w^ere gone. That day at noon 
She said to Luke, while they two by themselves 
Were sitting at the door, "Thou must not go: 
We have no other Child but thee to lose — 
None to remember — do not go away, 
[ 279 ] 


For if thou leave thy Father he will die." 
The Youth made answer with a jocund voice; 
And Isabel, when she had told her fears, 
Recovered heart. That evening her best fare 
Did she bring forth, and all together sat 
Like happy people round a Christmas fire. 
With daylight Isabel resumed her work; 
And all the ensuing week the house appeared 
As cheerful as a grove in Spring: at length 
The expected letter from their kinsman came. 
With kind assurances that he would do 
His utmost for the welfare of the Boy; 
To which, requests were added, that forthwith 
He might be sent to him. Ten times or more 
The letter was read over; Isabel 
Went forth to show it to the neighbours round; 
Nor was there at that time on English land 
A prouder heart than Luke's. When Isabel 
Had to her house returned, the old Man said, 

"He shall depart to-morrow." To this word 
The Housewife answered, talking much of things 
Which, if at such short notice he should go. 
Would surely be forgotten. But at length 
She gave consent, and Michael was at ease. 

A Near the tumultuous brook of Greenhead Ghy!-., 
In that deep valley, Michael had designed 
[ 280 ] 


To build a Sheepfold; and, before he heard 

The tidings of his melancholy loss, 

For this same purpose he had gathered up 

A heap of stones, which by the streamlet's edge 

Lay thrown together, ready for the work. 

With Luke that evening thitherward he walked: 

And soon as they had reached the place he stopped. 

And thus the old Man spake to him: — "My Son, 

To-morrow thou wilt leave me : with full heart 

I look upon thee, for thou art the same 

That wert a promise to me ere thy birth, 

And all thy life hast been my daily joy. 

I will relate to thee some little part 

Of our two histories; 't will do thee good 

When thou art from me, even if I should touch 

On things thou canst not know of. After thou 

First cam'st into the world — as oft befalls 
To new-born infants — thou didst sleep away 
Two days, and blessings from thy Father's tongue 
Then fell upon thee. Day by day passed on. 
And still I loved thee with increasing love. 
Never to living ear came sweeter sounds 
Than when I heard thee by our own fireside 
First uttering, without words, a natural tune; 
While thou, a feeding babe, didst in thy joy 
Sing at thy Mother's breast. Month followed month, 
f 281 ] 


And in the open fields my life was passed 
And on the mountains; else I think that tHou 
Hadst been brought up upon thy Father's kneeSc 
But we were playmates, Luke: among these hills. 
As well thou knowest, in us the old and young 
Have played together, nor with me didst thou 
Lack any pleasure which a boy can know." 
Luke had a manly heart; but at these words 
He sobbed aloud. The old Man grasped his hand. 
And said, "Nay, do not take it so — I see 
That these are things of which I need not speak. 
— Even to the utmost I have been to thee 
A kind and a good Father : and herein 
I but repay a gift which I myself 
Received at others' hands; for, though now old 
Beyond the common life of man, I still 
Remember them who loved me in my youth. 
Both of them sleep together: here they lived. 
As all their Forefathers had done; and when 
At length their time was come, they were not loth 
To give their bodies to the family mould. 
I wished that thou should'st live the life they lived: 
But, 't is a long time to look back, my Son, 
And see so little gain from threescore years. 
These fields were burthened when they came to me; 
Till I was forty years of age, not more 
[ 282 1 


Than half of my inheritance was mine. 

I toiled and toiled; God blessed me in my work. 

And till these three weeks past the land was free. 

— It looks as if it never could endure • 

Another Master. Heaven forgive me, Luke, 

If I judge ill for thee, but it seems good 

That thou should'st go." 

At this the old Man paused; 
Then, pointing to the stones near which they stood, 
Thus, after a short silence, he resumed: 
This was a work for us; and now, my Son, 
It is a work for me. But, lay one stone — 
\ Here, lay it for me, Luke, with thine own hands. 
Nay, Boy, be of good hope; — we both may live 
To see a better day. At eighty-four 
I still am strong and hale; — do thou thy part; 
I will do mine. — I will begin again 
With many tasks that were resigned to thee: 
Up to the heights, and in among the storms. 
Will I without thee go again, and do 
All works which I was wont to do alone. 
Before I knew thy face. — Heaven bless thee. Boy? 
Thy heart these two weeks has been beating fast 
With many hopes ; it should be so — yes — yes — 
I knew that thou could'st never have a wish 
To leave me, Luke: thou hast been bound to me 
[ 283 ] 



Only by links of love : when thou art gone. 

What will be left to us! — But, I forget 

My purposes. Lay now the corner-stone. 

As I requested; and hereafter, Luke, 

When thou art gone away, should evil men 

Be thy companions, think of me, my Son, 

And of this moment; hither turn thy thoughts. 

And God will strengthen thee: amid all fear 

And all temptation, Luke, I pray that thou 

May'st bear in mind the life thy Fathers lived. 

Who, being innocent, did for that cause 

Bestir them in good deeds. Now, fare thee well — 

W^hen thou return'st, thou in this place wilt see 

A work which is not here : a covenant 

'T will be between us; but, whatever fate 

Befall thee, I shall love thee to the last, 

And bear thy memory with me to the grave." 

The Shepherd ended here; and Luke stooped down. 
And, as his Father had requested, laid 
The first stone of the Sheepfold. At the sight 
The old Man's grief broke from him; to his heart 
He pressed his Son, he kissed him and wept; 
And to the house together they returned. 
— Hushed was that House in peace, or seeming peace, 
Ere the night fell : — with morrow's dawn the Boy 
Began his journey, and when he had reached 
[ 284 ] 


The public way, he put on a bold face; 
And all the neighbours, as he passed their doors. 
Came forth with wishes and with farewell prayers, 
That followed him till he was out of sight. 

A good report did from their Kinsman come, 
Of Luke and his well-doing: and the Boy 
Wrote loving letters, full of wondrous news. 
Which, as the Housewife phrased it, were throughout 
"The prettiest letters that were ever seen." 
Both parents read them with rejoicing hearts. 
So, many months passed on: and once again 
The Shepherd went about his daily work 
With confident and cheerful thoughts; and now 
Sometimes when he could find a leisure hour 
He to that valley took his way, and there 
Wrought at the Sheepfold. Meantime Luke began 
To slacken in his duty; and, at length, 

He in the dissolute city gave himself ,» , , 

To_£vil courses : ignominy and shame 
Fell on him, so that he was driven at last 
To seek a hiding-place beyond the seas. 

There is a comfort in the strength of love; 
'T will make a thing endurable, which else 
Would overset the brain, or break the heart: 
I have conversed with more than one who well 
Remember the old Man, and what he was 
[285 ] 


Years after he had heard this heavy news. 
His bodily frame had been from youth to age 
Of an unusual strength. Among the rocks 
He went, and still looked up to sun and cloud. 
And listened to the wind; and, as before. 
Performed all kinds of labour for his sheep. 
And for the land, his small inheritance. 
And to that hollow dell from time to time 
Did he repair, to build the Fold of which 
His flock had need. 'T is not forgotten yet ) 
The pity which was then in every heart ) 
For the old Man — and 't is believed by all 
That many and many a day he thither went. 
And never lifted up a single stone. 
\ There, by the Sheepfold, sometimes was he seen 
Bitting alone, or with his faithful Dog, 
Then old, beside him, lying at his feet. 
The length of full seven years, from time to time. 
He at the building of this Sheepfold wrought. 
And left the work unfinished when he died. 
Three years, or little more, did Isabel 
Survive her Husband: at her death the estate 
Was sold, and went into a stranger's hand. 
The Cottage which was named the Evening Star 
Is gone — the ploughshare has been through the ground 
On which it stood; great changes have been wrought 
[ 286 ] 


In all the neighbourhood : — yet the oak is left 
That grew beside their door; and the remains 
Of the unfinished Sheepfold may be seen 
Beside the boisterous brook of Greenhead Ghyll. 




1800 1800 

Written at Town-end, Grasmere. I will only add a little 
monitory anecdote concerning this subject. When Coleridge 
and Southey were walking together upon the Fells, Southey 
observed that, if I wished to be considered a faithful painter 
of rural manners, I ought not to have said that my Shepherd- 
boys trimmed their rustic hats as described in the poem. Just 
as the words had passed his lips two boys appeared with the 
very plant entwined round their hats. I have often wondered 
that Southey, who rambled so much about the mountains, 
should have fallen into this mistake, and I record it as a warn- 
ing for others who, with far less opportunity than my dear 
friend had of knowing what things are, and far less sagacity, 
give way to presumptuous criticism, from which he was free, 
though in this matter mistaken. In describing a tarn under 
Helvellyn, I say — 

" There sometimes doth a leaping fish 
Send through the tarn a lonely cheer." 

This was branded by a critic of these days, in a review as- 
cribed to Mrs. Barbauld, as unnatural and absurd. I admire 
the genius of Mrs. Barbauld, and am certain that, had her 
education been favourable to imaginative influences, no 
female of her day would have been more likely to sympa- 
thise with that image, and to acknowledge the truth of the 

[ 288 ] 


The valley rings with mirth and joj^; 

Among the hills the echoes play 

A never never ending song, 

To welcome in the May. 

The magpie chatters with delight; 

The mountain raven's youngling brood 

Have left the mother and the nest; 

And they go rambling east and west 

In search of their own food; 

Or through the glittering vapours dart 

In very wantonness of heart. 

Beneath a rock, upon the grass. 
Two boys are sitting in the sun; 
Their work, if any work they have. 
Is out of mind — or done. 
On pipes of sycamore they play 
The fragments of a Christmas hymn; 
Or with that plant which in our dale 
We call stag-horn, or fox's tail. 
Their rusty hats they trim: 
And thus, as happy as the day, 
Those Shepherds wear the time away. 

Along the river's stony marge 
The sand-lark chants a joyous song; 
[ 289 1 


The thrush is busy in the wood. 

And carols loud and strong. 

A thousand lambs are on the rocks, 

All newly born ! both earth and sky 

Keep jubilee, and more than all. 

Those boys with their green coronal; 

They never hear the cry. 

That plaintive cry ! which up the hill 

Comes from the depth of Dungeon-Ghyll. 

Said Walter, leaping from the ground, 
"Down to the stump of yon old yew 

We'll for our whistles run a race." 

Away the shepherds flew; 

They leapt — they ran — and when they came 

Right opposite to Dungeon-Ghyll, 

Seeing that he should lose the prize, 
"Stop!" to his comrade Walter cries — 

James stopped with no good will: 

Said Walter then, exulting, "Here 

You '11 find a task for half a year. 

'* Cross, if you dare, where I shall cross — 
Come on, and tread where I shall tread." 
The other took him at his word, 
And followed as he led. 
[ 290 ] 


It was a spot which you may see 

If ever you to Langdale go; 

Into a chasm a mighty block 

Hath fallen, and made a bridge of rock: 

The gulf is deep below; 

And, in a basin black and small. 

Receives a lofty waterfall. 

With staff in hand across the cleft 

The challenger pursued his march; 

And now, all eyes and feet, hath gained 

The middle of the arch. 

When list ! he hears a piteous moan — 

Again ! — his heart within him dies — 

His pulse is stopped, his breath is lost. 

He totters, pallid as a ghost. 

And, looking down, espies 

A lamb, that in the pool is pent 

Within that black and frightful rent. 

The lamb had slipped into the stream, 
And safe without a bruise or w^ound 
The cataract had borne him down 
Into the gulf profound. 
His dam had seen him when he fell. 
She saw him down the torrent borne; 
f 291 ] 


And, while with all a mother's love 

She from the lofty rocks above 

Sent forth a cry forlorn, 

The lamb, still swimming round and round. 

Made answer to that plaintive sound. 

When he had learnt what thing it was. 

That sent this rueful cry; I ween 

The Boy recovered heart, and told 

The sight which he had seen. 

Both gladly now deferred their task; 

Nor was there wanting other aid — 

A Poet, one who loves the brooks 

Far better than the sages' books, 

By chance had thither strayed; 

And there the helpless lamb he found 

By those huge rocks encompassed round. 

He drew it from the troubled pool, 
And brought it forth into the light : 
The Shepherds met him with his charge. 
An unexpected sight! 
Into their arms the lamb they took. 
Whose life and limbs the flood had spared; 
Then up the steep ascent they hied, 
And placed him at his mother's side; 
[ 292 1 


And gently did the Bard 

Those idle Shepherd-boys upbraid, 

And bade them better mind their trade. 

[ 293 


1800 1800 

Written at Town-end, Grasmere. Barbara Lewthwaite, 
now living at Ambleside (1843), though much changed as to 
beauty, was one of two most lovely sisters. Almost the first 
words my poor brother John said, when he visited us for the 
first time at Grasmere, were, "Were those two Angels that I 
have just seen?" and from his description I have no doubt 
they were those two sisters. The mother died in childbed; and 
one of our neighbours at Grasmere told me that the loveliest 
sight she had ever seen was that mother as she lay in her coflBn 
with her babe in her arm. I mention this to notice what I can- 
not but think a salutary custom once universal in these vales. 
Every attendant on a funeral made it a duty to look at the 
corpse in the coffin before the lid was closed, which was never 
done (nor I believe is now) till a minute or two before the corpse 
was removed, Barbara Lewthwaite was not in fact the child 
whom I had seen and overheard as described in the poem. I 
chose the name for reasons implied in the above; and will here 
add a caution against the use of names of living persons. / Within 
a few months after the publication of this poem, I was much 
surprised, and more hurt, to find it in a child's school-book 
which, having been compiled by Lindley Murray, had come 
into use at Grasmere School where Barbara was a pupil; and, 
alas! I had the mortification of hearing that she was very vain 
of being thus distinguished; and, in after-life, she used to saj 
that she remembered the incident and what I said to her upor 
the occasion. 

[ 294 ] 


The dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink; 

I heard a voice; it said, "Drink, pretty creature, drink ! " 

And, looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied 

A snow-white mountain-lamb with a Maiden at its side. 

Nor sheep nor kine were near; the lamb was all alone,. 
And by a slender cord was tethered to a stone; 
With one knee on the grass did the little Maiden kneel. 
While to that mountain-lamb she gave its evening meal. 

The lamb, while from her hand he thus his supper 

Seemed to feast with head and ears; and his tail with 

pleasure shook. 
"Drink, pretty creature, drink," she said in such a tone 
That I almost received her heart into my own. 

'T was little Barbara Lewthwaite, a child of beauty 

I watched them with delight, they were a lovely pair. 
Now with her empty can the Maiden turned away: 
But ere ten yards were gone her footsteps did she stay. 

Right towards the lamb she looked; and from a shady 

I unobserved could see the workings of her face: 
f 295 1 


If Nature to her tongue could measured numbers bring. 
Thus, thought I, to her lamb that little Maid might sing : 

"What ails thee, young One? what? Why pull so at thy 

Is it not well with thee? well both for bed and board? 
Thy plot of grass is soft, and green as grass can be; 
Rest, little young One, rest; what is *t that aileth thee? 

"What is it thou wouldst seek? What is wanting to thy 

Thy limbs are they not strong? And beautiful thou art: 
This grass is tender grass; these flowers they have no 

And that green corn all day is rustling in thy ears! 

"If the sun be shining hot, do but stretch thy woollen 

This beech is standing by, its covert thou canst gain; 
For rain and mountain-storms! the like thou need'st 

not fear, 
The rain and storm are things that scarcely can come 


"Rest, little young One, rest; thou hast forgot the day 
When my father found thee first in places far away; 
f 296 1 


Many flocks were on the hills, but thou wert owned by 

And thy mother from thy side for evermore was gone. 

"He took thee in his arms, and in pity brought thee 

home : 
A blessed day for thee ! then whither wouldst thou roam? 
A faithful nurse thou hast; the dam that did thee yean 
Upon the mountain-tops no kinder could have been. 

"Thou know'st that twice a day I have brought thee in 

this can 
Fresh water from the brook, as clear as ever ran; 
And twice in the day, when the ground is wet with dew, 
I bring thee draughts of milk, warm milk it is and new. 

"Thy limbs will shortly be twice as stout as they are 

Then I '11 yoke thee to my cart like a pony in the plough; 
My playmate thou shalt be; and when the wind is cold 
Our hearth shall be thy bed, our house shall be thy fold. 

"It will not, will not rest! — Poor creature, can it be 
That 't is thy mother's heart which is working so in thee.'^ 
Things that I know not of belike to thee are dear, 
And dreams of things which thou canst neither see nor 

[ 297 1 


"Alas, the mountain-tops that look so green and fair! 
I've heard of fearful winds and darkness that come 

The little brooks that seem all pastime and all play, 
When they are angry, roar like lions for their prey. 

"Here thou need'st not dread the raven in the sky; 
Night and day thou art safe, — our cottage is hard by. 
Why bleat so after me? Why pull so at thy chain? 
Sleep — and at break of day I will come to thee again ! " 

— As homeward through the lane I went w^ith lazy feet. 
This song to myself did I oftentimes repeat; 
And it seemed, as I retraced the ballad line by line. 
That but half of it was hers, and one half of it was mine. 

Again, and once again, did I repeat the song; 

"Nay," said I, "more than half to the damsel must 

For she looked with such a look and she spake with such 

a tone. 
That I almost received her heart into my own." 



1800 1800 


By persons resident in the country and attached to rural 
objects, many places will be found unnamed or of unknown 
names, where little Incidents must have occurred, or feelings 
been experienced, which will have given to such places a pri- 
vate ar«d peculiar interest. From a wish to give some sort of 
record to such Incidents, and renew the gratification of such 
feeling's Names have been given to Places by the Author and 
some of his Friends, and the following Poems written in con- 


Written at Grasmere. This poem was suggested on the 
banks of the brook that runs through Easedale, which is, in 
some parts of its course, as wild and beautiful as brook can be. 
I have composed thousands of verses by the side of it. 

It was an April morning: fresh and clear 
The Rivulet, delighting in its strength, 
Ran with a young man's speed; and yet the voice 
Of Y- -iters which the winter had supplied 
WaL softened down into a vernal tone. 
The spirit of enjoyment and desire. 
And hopes and wishes, from all living things 
Went circling, like a multitude of sounds, 
f 299 1 


The budding groves seemed eager to urge on 
The steps of June; as if their various hues 
Were only hindrances that stood between 
Them and their object: but, meanwhile, prevailed 
Such an entire contentment in the air 
That every naked ash, and tardy tree 
Yet leafless, showed as if the countenance 
With which it looked on this delightful day 
Were native to the summer. — Up the brook 
I roamed in the confusion of my heart, 
Alive to all things and forgetting all. 
At length I to a sudden turning came 
In this continuous glen, where down a rock 
The Stream, so ardent in its course before, 
Sent forth such sallies of glad sound, that all 
Which I till then had heard, appeared the voice 
Of common pleasure: beast and bird, the lamb. 
The shepherd's dog, the linnet and the thrush 
Vied with this waterfall, and made a song. 
Which, while I listened, seemed like the wild growth 
Or like some natural produce of the air. 
That could not cease to be. Green leaves were here; 
But 't was the foliage of the rocks — the birch, 
The yew, the holly, and the bright green thorn, 
With hanging islands of resplendent furze: 
And, on a summit, distant a short space, 
[ 300 ] 


By any who should look beyond the dell, 
A single mountain-cottage might be seen. 
I gazed and gazed, and to myself I said, 
"Our thoughts at least are ours; and this wild nook, 
My Emma, I will dedicate to thee." 

Soon did the spot become my other home. 

My dwelling, and my out-of-doors abode. 
And, of the Shepherds who have seen me there, 
To whom I sometimes in our idle talk 
Have told this fancy, tw^o or three, perhaps, 
Years after w^e are gone and in our graves, 
When they have cause to speak of this wild place, 
May call it by the name of Emma's Dell. 



Written at Grasmere. The effect of her laugh is an extrava- 
gance; though the effect of the reverberation of voices in some 
parts of the mountains is very striking. There is, in the "Ex- 
cursion," an allusion to the bleat of a lamb thus re-echoed, and 
described without any exaggeration, as I heard it, on the side 
of Stickle Tarn, from the precipice that stretches on to Lang- 
dale Pikes. 

Amid the smoke of cities did you pass 
The time of early youth; and there you learned, 
From years of quiet industry, to love 
[ 301 1 


The living Beings by your own fireside, 

With such a strong devotion, that your heart 

Is slow to meet the sympathies of them 

Who look upon the hills with tenderness, 

And make dear friendships with the streams and 

Yet we, who are transgressors in this kind. 
Dwelling retired in our simplicity 
Among the woods and fields, we love you well, 
Joanna! and I guess, since you have been 
So distant from us now for two long years. 
That you will gladly listen to discourse, 
However trivial, if you thence be taught 
That they, with whom you once were happy, talk 
Familiarly of you and of old times. 

While I was seated, now some ten days past. 
Beneath those lofty firs, that overtop 
Their ancient neighbour, the old steeple-tower. 
The Vicar from his gloomy house hard by 
Came forth to greet me; and when he had asked, 
'How fares Joanna, that wild-hearted Maid! 
And when will she return to us.?" he paused; 
And, after short exchange of village news, 
He with grave looks demanded, for what cause. 
Reviving obsolete idolatry, 
I, like a Runic Priest, in characters 
[ 302 ] 


Of formidable size had chiselled out 
Some uncouth name upon the native rock. 
Above the Rotha, by the forest-side. 
Now, by those dear immunities of heart 
Engendered between malice and true love, 
I was not loth to be so catechised. 
And this was my reply: — "As it befell. 
One summer morning we had walked abroad 
At break of day, Joanna and myself. 

— 'T was that delightful season when the broom. 
Full-flowered, and visible on every steep. 
Along the copses runs in veins of gold. 

Our pathway led us on to Rotha's banks; 

And when we came in front of that tall rock 

That eastward looks, I there stopped short — and stood 

Tracing the lofty barrier with my eye 

From base to summit; such delight I found 

To note in shrub and tree, in stone and flower 

That intermixture of delicious hues. 

Along so vast a surface, all at once, 

In one impression, by connecting force 

Of their own beauty, imaged in the heart. 

— When I had gazed perhaps two minutes' space, 
Joanna, looking in my eyes, beheld 

That ravishment of mine, and laughed aloud. 
The Rock, like something starting from a sleep, 
[ 303 1 


Took up the Lady's voice, and laughed again; 
That ancient Woman seated on Hehn-crag 
Was ready with her cavern; Hammar-scar, 
And the tall Steep of Silver-how, sent forth 
A noise of laughter; southern Loughrigg heard, 
And Fairfield answered with a mountain tone; 
Helvellyn far into the clear blue sky 
Carried the Lady's voice, — old Skiddaw blew 
His speaking-trumpet; — back out of the clouds 
Of Glaramara southward came the voice; 
And Kirkstone tossed it from his misty head. 

— Now whether (said I to our cordial Friend, 
Who in the hey-day of astonishment 
Smiled in my face) this were in simple truth 
A work accomplished by the brotherhood 

Of ancient mountains, or my ear was touched 

With dreams and visionary impulses 

To me alone imparted, sure I am 

That there was a loud uproar in the hills. 

And, while we both were listening, to my side 

The fair Joanna drew, as if she wished 

To shelter from some object of her fear. 

— And hence, long afterwards, when eighteen moons 
Were wasted, as I chanced to walk alone 
Beneath this rock, at sunrise, on a calm 

And silent morning, I sat down, and there, 
[ 304 ] 


In memory of affections old and true, 
I chiselled out in those rude characters 
Joanna's name deep in the living stone : — 
And I, and all who dwell by my fireside, 
Have called the lovely rock, Joanna's Rock.'* 


It is not accurate that the Eminence here alluded to could 
be seen from our orchard-seat. It rises above the road by the 
side of Grasmere lake, towards Keswick, and its name is Stone- 

There is an Eminence, — of these our hills 
The last that parleys with the setting sun; 
We can behold it from our orchard-seat; 
And, when at evening we pursue our walk 
Along the public way, this Peak, so high 
Above us, and so distant in its height. 
Is visible; and often seems to send 
Its own deep quiet to restore our hearts. 
The meteors make of it a favourite haunt: 
The star of Jove, so beautiful and large 
In the mid heavens, is never half so fair 
As when he shines above it. 'T is in truth 
The loneliest place we have among the clouds. 
And She who dwells with me, whom I have loved 
[ 305 ] 


With such communion, that no place on earth 

Can ever be a sohtude to me, 

Hath to this lonely Summit given my Name. 


The character of the eastern shore of Grasmere lake is quite 
changed, since these verses were written, by the public road 
being carried along its side. The friends spoken of were Cole- 
ridge and my Sister, and the facts occurred strictly as recorded. 

A NARROW girdle of rough stones and crags, 
A rude and natural causeway, interposed 
Between the water and a winding slope 
Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore 
Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy: 
And there myself and two beloved Friends, 
One calm September morning, ere the mist 
Had altogether yielded to the sun, 
Sauntered on this retired and difficult way. 

Ill suits the road with one in haste; but we 

Played with our time; and, as we strolled along, 
It was our occupation to observe 
Such objects as the waves had tossed ashore — 
Feather, or leaf, or weed, or withered bough. 
Each on the other heaped, along the line 
Of the dry wreck. And, in our vacant mood, 
[ 306 ] 


Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft 

Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard. 

That skimmed the surface of the dead calm lake, 

Suddenly halting now — a lifeless stand! 

And starting off again with freak as sudden; 

In all its sportive wanderings, all the while, 

Making report of an invisible breeze 

That was its wings, its chariot, and its horse, 

Its playmate, rather say, its moving soul. 

And often, trifling with a privilege 

Alike indulged to all, we paused, one now, 
And now the other, to point out, perchance 
To pluck, some flower or water-weed, too fair 
Either to be divided from the place 
On which it grew, or to be left alone 
To its own beauty. Many such there are. 
Fair ferns and flowers, and chiefly that tall fern, 
So stately, of the queen Osmunda named; 
Plant lovelier, in its own retired abode 
On Grasmere's beach, than Naiad by the side 
Of Grecian brook, or Lady of the Mere, 
Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance. 
— So fared we that bright morning : from the fields 
Meanwhile, a noise was heard, the busy mirth 
Of reapers, men and women, boys and girls. 
Delighted much to listen to those sounds, 
f 307 1 


And feeding thus our fancies, we advanced 
Along the indented shore; when suddenly, 
Through a thin veil of glittering haze was seen 
Before us, on a point of jutting land, 
The tall and upright figure of a Man 
Attired in peasant's garb, who stood alone, 
Angling beside the margin of the lake. 
"Improvident and reckless," we exclaimed, 
**The Man must be, who thus can lose a day 
Of the mid harvest, when the labourer's hire 
Is ample, and some little might be stored . 
Wherewith to cheer him in the winter time." 
Thus talking of that Peasant, we approached 
Close to the spot where with his rod and line 
He stood alone; whereat he turned his head 
To greet us — and we saw a Man worn down 
By sickness, gaunt and lean, with sunken cheeks 
And wasted limbs, his legs so long and lean 
That for my single self I looked at them. 
Forgetful of the body they sustained. — 
Too weak to labour in the harvest field. 
The Man was using his best skill to gain 
A pittance from the dead unfeeling lake 
That knew not of his wants. I will not say 
What thoughts immediately were ours, nor how 
The happy idleness of that sweet morn, 
[ 308 ] 


With all its lovely images, was changed 

To serious musing and to self-reproach. 

Nor did we fail to see within ourselves 

What need there is to be reserved in speech, 

And temper all our thoughts with charity. 

— Therefore, unwilling to forget that day. 

My Friend, Myself, and She who then received 

The same admonishment, have called the place 

By a memorial name, uncouth indeed 

As e'er by mariner was given to bay 

Or foreland, on a new-discovered coast; 

And Point Rasii-Judgment is the name it bears. 


TO M. H. 

The pool alluded to is in Rydal Upper Park. 

Our walk was far among the ancient trees : 
There was no road, nor any woodman's path; 
But a thick umbrage — checking the wild growth 
Of weed and sapling, along soft green turf 
Beneath the branches — of itself had made 
A track, that brought us to a slip of lawn. 
And a small bed of water in the woods. 
All round this pool both flocks and herds might drink 
[ 309 ] 


On its firm margin, even as from a well, 
Or some stone-basin which the herdsman's hand 
Had shaped for their refreshment; nor did sun, 
Or wind from any quarter, ever come, 
But as a blessing to this calm recess. 
This glade of water and this one green field. 
The spot was made by Nature for herself; 
The travellers know it not, and 't will remain 
Unknown to them; but it is beautiful; 
And if a man should plant his cottage near, 
Should sleep beneath the shelter of its trees. 
And blend its waters with his daily meal, 
He would so love it, that in his death-hour 
Its image would survive among his thoughts: 
And therefore, my sweet Mary, this still Nook, 
With all its beeches, we have named from You! 

[ 310 


1800 1800 

Suggested nearer to Grasmere, on the same mountain track 
as that referred to in the following Note. The Eglantine re- 
mained many years afterwards, but is now gone. 


"Begone, thou fond presumptuous Elf," 
Exclaimed an angry Voice, 

"Nor dare to thrust thy foolish self 
Between me and my choice ! " 
A small Cascade fresh swoln with snows 
Thus threatened a poor Briar-rose, 
That, all bespattered with his foam. 
And dancing high and dancing low, 
Was living, as a child might know, 
In an unhappy home. 


"Dost thou presume my course to block? 
Off, off! or, puny Thing! 
I '11 hurl thee headlong with the rock , 
To which thy fibres cling." 
The Flood was tyrannous and strong; 
f 311 1 


The patient Briar suffered long. 
Nor did he utter groan or sigh, 
Hoping the danger would be past; 
But, seeing no relief, at last. 
He ventured to reply. 


"Ah!" said the Briar, "blame me not; 
Why should we dwell in strife? 
We who in this sequestered spot 
Once lived a happy life ! 
You stirred me on my rocky bed — 
What pleasure through my veins you spread 
The summer long, from day to day. 
My leaves you freshened and bedewed; 
Nor was it common gratitude 
That did your cares repay. 


"When spring came on with bud and bell. 
Among these rocks did I 
Before you hang my wreaths to tell 
That gentle days were nigh! 
And in the sultry summer hours, 
I sheltered you with leaves and flowers; 
And in my leaves — now shed and gone, 
[ 312 ] 


The linnet lodged, and for us two 
Chanted his pretty songs, when you 
Had little voice or none. 

'But now proud thoughts are in your breast 
What grief is mine you see, 
Ah! would you think, even yet how blest 
Together we might be ! 
Though of both leaf and flower bereft. 
Some ornaments to me are left — 
Rich store of scarlet hips is mine. 
With which I, in my humble way, 
Would deck you many a winter day, 
A happy Eglantine!" 


What more he said I cannot tell. 
The Torrent down the rocky dell 
Came thundering loud and fast; 
I listened, nor aught else could hear; 
The Briar quaked — and much I fear 
Those accents were his last. 



1800 1800 

Suggested upon the mountain pathway that leads from 
Upper Rydal to Grasmere. The ponderous block of stone 
which is mentioned in the poem remains, I believe, to this 
day, a good way up Nab-Scar. Broom grows under it, and in 
many places on the side of the precipice. 

His simple truths did Andrew glean 

Beside the babbling rills; 

A careful student he had been 

Among the woods and hills. 

One winter's night, when through the trees 

The wind was roaring, on his knees 

His youngest born did Andrew hold: 

And while the rest, a ruddy quire, 

Were seated round their blazing fire, 

This Tale the Shepherd told. 


I saw a crag, a lofty stone 
As ever tempest beat ! 
f 314 1 


Out of its head an Oak had grown, 

A Broom out of its feet. 

The time was March, a cheerful noon — 

The thaw-wind, with the breath of June, 

Breathed gently from the warm south-west: 

When, in a voice sedate with age. 

This Oak, a giant and a sage. 

His neighbour thus addressed: — 


" * Eight w^eary weeks, through rock and clay. 
Along this mountain's edge. 
The Frost hath wrought both night and day, 
Wedge driving after w^edge. 
Look up ! and think, above your head 
What trouble, surely, will be bred; 
Last night I heard a crash — 't is true. 
The splinters took another road — 
I see them yonder — what a load 
For such a Thing as you! 


*You are preparing as before, 
To deck your slender shape; 
And yet, just three years back — no more — 
You had a strange escape : 
f 315 1 


Down from yon cliff a fragment broke; 
It thundered down, with fire and smoke. 
And hitherward pursued its way; 
This ponderous block was caught by me. 
And o'er your head, as you may see, 
'T is hanging to this day ! 

" * If breeze or bird to this rough steep 
Your kind's first seed did bear; 
The breeze had better been asleep, 
The bird caught in a snare: 
For you and your green twigs decoy 
The little witless shepherd-boy 
To come and slumber in your bower; 
And, trust me, on some sultry noon, 
Both you and he, Heaven knows how soon ! 
Will perish in one hour. 


*'*From me this friendly warning take* — 
The Broom began to doze. 
And thus, to keep herself awake. 
Did gently interpose: 
*My thanks for your discourse are due; 
That more than what you say is true, 
[ 316 1 


I know, and I have known it long; 
Frail is the bond by which we hold 
Our being, whether young or old. 
Wise, foolish, weak, or strong. 


* Disasters, do the best we can. 
Will reach both great and small; 
And he is oft the wisest man. 
Who is not wise at all. 
For me, why should I wish to roam.^* 
This spot is my paternal home, 
It is my pleasant heritage; 
My father many a happy year, 
Spread here his careless blossoms, here 
Attained a good old age. 


*Even such as his may be my lot. 
What cause have I to haunt 
My heart with terrors? Am I not 
In truth a favoured plant ! 
On me such bounty Summer pours. 
That I am covered o'er with flowers; 
And, when the Frost is in the sky. 
My branches are so fresh and gay 
[ 317 ] 


That you might look at me and say. 
This Plant can never die. 


'The butterfly, all green and gold. 
To me hath often flown, 
Here in my blossoms to behold 
Wings lovely as his own. 
When grass is chill with rain or dew. 
Beneath my shade, the mother-ewe 
Lies with her infant lamb; I see 
The love they to each other make, 
And the sweet joj^ which they partake. 
It is a joy to me.' 

Her voice was blithe, her heart was light: 
The Broom might have pursued 
Her speech, until the stars of night 
Their journey had renewed; 
But in the branches of the oak 
Two ravens now began to croak 
Their nuptial song, a gladsome air; 
And to her own green bower the breeze 
That instant brought two stripling bees 
To rest, or murmur there. 
[ 318 ] 



'One night, my Children! from the north 

There came a furious blast; 

At break of clay I ventured forth, 

And near the cliff I passed. 

The storm had fallen upon the Oak, 

And struck him with a mighty stroke, 

And whirled, and whirled him far away; 

And, in one hospitable cleft. 

The little careless Broom was left 

To live for many a day." 

[ 319] 


1800 1800 

Written at Town-end, Grasmere. The first eight stanzas 
were composed extempore one winter evening in the cottage; 
when, after having tired myself with labouring at an awkward 
passage in "The Brothers," I started with a sudden impulse 
to this to get rid of the other, and finished it in a day or two. 
My Sister and I had past the place a few weeks before in our 
wild winter journey from Sockburn on the banks of the Tees 
to Grasmere. A peasant whom we met near the spot told us 
the story so far as concerned the name of the Well, and the 
Hart, and pointed out the Stones. Both the Stones and the 
Well are objects that may easily be missed; the tradition by 
this time may be extinct in the neighbourhood: the man who 
related it to us was very old. 

Hart-Leap Well is a small spring of water, about five miles 
from Richmond in Yorkshire, and near the side of the road 
that leads from Richmond to Askrigg. Its name is derived 
from a remarkable Chase, the memory of which is preserved 
by the monuments spoken of in the second Part of the follow- 
ing Poem, which monuments do now exist as I have there 
described them. 


The Knight had ridden down from W'ensley Moor 
W^ith the slow^ motion of a summer's cloud, 
And now% as he approached a vassal's door, 
** Bring forth another horse!" he cried aloud. 
[ 320 ] 


'Another horse!" — That shout the vassal heard 
And saddled his best Steed, a comely grey; 
Sir Walter mounted liim; he was the third 
Which he had mounted on that glorious day. 

Joy sparkled in the prancing courser's eyes; 
The horse and horseman are a happy pair; 
But, though Sir Walter like a falcon flies, 
There is a doleful silence in the air. 

A rout this morning left Sir Walter's Hall, 
That as they galloped made the echoes roar; 
But horse and man are vanished, one and all; 
Such race, I think, was never seen before. 

Sir Walter, restless as a veering wind. 
Calls to the few tired dogs that yet remain: 
Blanch, Swift, and Music, noblest of their kind. 
Follow, and up the weary mountain strain. 

The knight hallooed, he cheered and chid them on 
W^ith suppliant gestures and upbraidings stern; 
But breath and eyesight fail; and, one by one, 
The dogs are stretched among the mountain fern. 

Where is the throng, the tumult of the race.^* 
The bugles that so joyfully were blown .'^ 
[ 321 1 


— This chase it looks not like an earthly chase; 
Sir Walter and the Hart are left alone. 

The poor Hart toils along the mountain -side; 
I will not stop to tell how far he fled, 
Nor will I mention by what death he died; 
But now the Knight beholds him lying dead. 

Dismounting, then, he leaned against a thorn; 
He had no follower, dog, nor man, nor boy: 
He neither cracked his whip, nor blew his horn, 
But gazed upon the spoil with silent joy. 

Close to the thorn on which Sir W^alter leaned, 
Stood his dumb partner in this glorious feat; 
Weak as a lamb the hour that it is yeaned; 
And white with foam as if with cleaving sleet. 

Upon his side the Hart was lying stretched: 

His nostril touched a spring beneath a hill. 

And with the last deep groan his breath had fetched 

The waters of the spring were trembling still. 

And now, too happy for repose or rest, 
(Never had living man such joyful lot!) 
Sir Walter walked all round, north, south, and west, 
And gazed and gazed upon that darling spot. 
[ 322 ] 


And climbing up the hill — (it was at least 
Four roods of sheer ascent) Sir Walter found 
Three several hoof-marks which the hunted Beast 
Had left imprinted on the grassy ground. 

Sir Walter wiped his face, and cried, "Till now 
Such sight was never seen by human eyes : 
Three leaps have borne him from this lofty brow, 
Down to the very fountain where he lies. 

"I'll build a pleasure-house upon this spot, 
And a small arbour, made for rural joy; 
'T will be the traveller's shed, the pilgrim's cot, 
A place of love for damsels that are coy. 

"A cunning artist will I have to frame 
A basin for that fountain in the dell! 
And they who do make mention of the same. 
From this day forth, shall call it Hart-Leap Well. 

"And, gallant Stag! to make thy praises known, 
Another monument shall here be raised; 
Three several pillars, each a rough-hewn stone, 
And planted where thy hoofs the turf have grazed. 

"And, in the summer-time when days are long, 
I will come hither with my Paramour; 
[ 323 ] 


And with the dancers and the minstrel's song 
We will make merry in that pleasant bower. 

Till the foundations of the mountains fail 
My mansion with its arbour shall endure; — 
The joy of them who till the fields of Swale, 
And them who dwell among the woods of lire ! " 

Then home he went, and left the Hart, stone-dead, 
With breathless nostrils stretched above the spring. 
— Soon did the Knight perform what he had said; 
And far and wide the fame thereof did ring. 

Ere thrice the Moon into her port had steered, 
A cup of stone received the living well; 
Three pillars of rude stone Sir Walter reared. 
And built a house of pleasure in the dell. 

And near the fountain, flowers of stature tall 
With trailing plants and trees were intertwined, — 
Which soon composed a little sylvan hall, 
A leafy shelter from the sun and wind. 

And thither, when the summer days were long. 
Sir Walter led his wondering Paramour; 
And with the dancers and the minstrel's song 
Made merriment within that pleasant bower. 
[ 324 ] 


The Knight, Sir Walter, died in course of time. 
And his bones He in his paternal vale. — 
But there is matter for a second rhyme, 
And I to this would add another tale. 


The moving accident is not my trade; 
To freeze the blood I have no ready arts: 
'T is my delight, alone in summer shade, 
To pipe a simple song for thinking hearts. 

As I from Hawes to Richmond did repair, 
It chanced that I saw standing in a dell 
Three aspens at three corners of a square; 
And one, not four yards distant, near a well. 

What this imported I could ill divine: 
And, pulling now the rein my horse to stop, 
I saw three pillars standing in a line, — 
The last stone-pillar on a dark hill-top. 

The trees were grey, with neither arms nor head; 
Half wasted the square mound of tawny green; 
So that you just might say, as then I said, 
"Here in old time the hand of man hath been." 
f 325 1 


I looked upon the hill both far and near, 
More doleful place did never eye survey; 
It seemed as if the spring-time came not here, 
And Nature here were willing to decay. 

I stood in various thoughts and fancies lost, 
When one, who was in shepherd's garb attired, 
Came up the hollow: — him did I accost, 
And what this place might be I then inquired. 

The Shepherd stopped, and that same story told 
Which in my former rhyme I have rehearsed. 
**A jolly place," said he, "in times of old! 
But something ails it now: the spot is curst. 

" You see these lifeless stumps of aspen wood — 
Some say that they are beeches, others elms — 
These were the bower; and here a mansion stood, 
The finest palace of a hundred realms! 

"The arbour does its own condition tell; 
You see the stones, the fountain, and the stream; 
But as to the great Lodge ! you might as well 
Hunt half a day for a forgotten dream. 

"There's neither dog nor heifer, horse nor sheep. 
Will wet his lips within that cup of stone; 
[ 326 ] 


And oftentimes, when all are fast asleep, 
This water doth send forth a dolorous groan. 

"Some say that here a murder has been done, 
And blood cries out for blood: but, for my part, 

' I 've guessed, when I 've been sitting in the sun. 
That it was all for that unhappy Hart. 

"What thoughts must through the creature's brain 
have past! 
Even from the topmost stone, upon the steep, 
Are but three bounds — and look. Sir, at this last — 
O Master ! it has been a cruel leap. 

"For thirteen hours he ran a desperate race; 
And in my simple mind we cannot tell 
What cause the Hart might have to love this place. 
And come and make his deathbed near the well. 

"Here on the grass perhaps asleep he sank. 
Lulled by the fountain in the summer-tide; 
This water was perhaps the first he drank 
When he had wandered from his mother's side. 

" In April here beneath the flowering thorn 
He heard the birds their morning carols sing; 
f 327 1 


And he, perhaps, for aught we know, was born 
Not half a furlong from that self-same spring. 

*Now, here is neither grass nor pleasant shade; 
The sun on drearier hollow never shone; 
So will it be, as I have often said. 
Till trees, and stones, and fountain, all are gone." 

* Grey-headed Shepherd, thou hast spoken well; 
Small difference lies between thy creed and mine: 
This Beast not unobserved by Nature fell; 
His death was mourned by sympathy divine. 

'The Being, that is in the clouds and air. 
That is in the green leaves among the groves. 
Maintains a deep and reverential care 
For the unoffending creatures whom he loves. 

'The pleasure-house is dust: — behind, before. 
This is no common waste, no common gloom; 
But Nature, in due course of time, once more 
Shall here put on her beauty and her bloom. 

She leaves these objects to a slow decay, 
That what we are, and have been, may be known; 
But at the coming of the milder day. 
These monuments shall all be overgrown. 
[ 328 1 


*One lesson, Shepherd, let us two divide. 

Taught both by what she shows, and what conceals; 

Never to blend our pleasure or our pride 

With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels.'* 



1800 1800 

'T IS said, that some have died for love: 

And here and there a churchyard grave is found 

In the cold north's unhallowed ground, 

Because the wretched man himself had slain. 

His love was such a grievous pain. 

And there is one whom I five years have known; 

He dwells alone 

Upon Helvellyn's side: 

He loved — the pretty Barbara died; 

And thus he makes his moan: 

Three years had Barbara in her grave been laid 

When thus his moan he made: 

"Oh, move, thou Cottage, from behind that oak! 
Or let the aged tree uprooted lie. 
That in some other way yon smoke 
May mount into the sky! 

The clouds pass on; they from the heavens depart. 
I look — the sky is empty space; 
[ 330 ] 


I know not what I trace; 

But when I cease to look, my hand is on my heart. 

" Oh ! what a weight is in these shades ! Ye leaves. 
That murmur once so dear, when will it cease? 
Your sound my heart of rest bereaves. 
It robs my heart of peace. 

Thou Thrush, that singest loud — and loud and free. 
Into yon row of willows flit. 
Upon that alder sit; 
Or sing another song, or choose another tree. 

"Roll back, sweet Rill! back to thy mountain-bounds. 
And there for ever be thy waters chained ! 
For thou dost haunt the air with sounds 
That cannot be sustained; 
If still beneath that pine-tree's ragged bough 
Headlong yon waterfall must come. 
Oh let it then be dumb ! 

Be anything, sweet Rill, but that which thou art 

"Thou Eglantine, so bright with sunny showers, 
Proud as a rainbow spanning half the vale. 
Thou one fair shrub, oh! shed thy flowers. 
And stir not in the gale, 

f 331 1 


For thus to see thee nodding in the air. 

To see thy arch thus stretch and bend, 

Thus rise and thus descend, — 

Disturbs me till the sight is more than I can bear." 

The Man who makes this feverish complaint 
Is one of giant stature, who could dance 
Equipped from head to foot in iron mail. 
Ah gentle Love! if ever thought was thine 
To store up kindred hours for me, thy face 
Turn from me, gentle Love ! nor let me walk 
Within the sound of Emma's voice, nor know 
Such happiness as I have known to-day. 

[ 332 ] 


1800 1800 

Written at Town-end, Grasmere. When I was a child at 
Cockermouth, no funeral took place without a basin filled 
with sprigs of boxwood being placed upon a table covered with 
a white cloth in front of the house. The huntings on foot, in 
which the old man is supposed to join as here described, were 
of common, almost habitual, occurrence in our vales when I 
was a boy ; and the people took much delight in them. They 
are now less frequent. 

"Up, Timothy, up with your staff and away!| 
Not a soul in the village this morning will stay; 
The hare has just started from Hamilton's grounds, 
And Skiddaw is glad with the cry of the hounds.'* 

— Of coats and of jackets grey, scarlet, and green, 
On the slopes of the pastures all colours were seen; 
With their comely blue aprons, and caps white as snow. 
The girls on the hills made a holiday show. 

Fresh sprigs of green box-wood, not six months before. 
Filled the funeral basin ^ at Timothy's door; 
A coffin through Timothy's threshold had past; 
One Child did it bear, and that Child was his last. 
[ 333 ] 


Now fast up the dell came the noise and the fray. 
The horse and the horn, and the hark! hark away! 
Old Timothy took up his staff, and he shut ' 
With a leisurely motion the door of his hut. 

Perhaps to himself at that moment he said; 
" The key I must take, for my Ellen is dead.", 
But of this in my ears not a word did he speak; 
And he went to the chase with a tear on his cheek. 

334 ] 


1800 1800 

Though the torrents from their fountains 
Roar down many a craggy steep, 
Yet they find among the mountains 
Resting-places calm and deep. 

Clouds that love through air to hasten, 
Ere the storm its fury stills, 
Helmet-like themselves will fasten 
On the heads of towering hills. 

What, if through the frozen centre 
Of the Alps the Chamois bound. 
Yet he has a home to enter 
In some nook of chosen ground: 

And the Sea-horse, though the ocean 
Yield him no domestic cave. 
Slumbers without sense of motion. 
Couched upon the rocking wave, 
f 335 1 


If on windy days the Raven 
Gambol like a dancing skiff, 
Not the less she loves her haven 
In the bosom of the cliff. 

The fleet Ostrich, till day closes. 
Vagrant over desert sands. 
Brooding on her eggs reposes 
When chill night that care demands. 

Day and night my toils redouble. 
Never nearer to the goal; 
Night and day, I feel the trouble 
Of the Wanderer in my soul. 

[ 336 ] 


1800 1800 

Written at Town-end, Grasmere. These structures, as 

every one knows, are common amongst our hills, being built 

by shepherds, as conspicuous marks, and occasionally by boys 

in sport. 

There 's George Fisher, Charles Fleming, and Reginald 

Three rosy-cheeked school-boys, the highest not more 
Than the height of a counsellor's bag; 
To the top of Great How ^^ did it please them to climb : 
And there they built up, without mortar or lime, 
A Man on the peak of the crag. 

They built him of stones gathered up as they lay: 
They built him and christened him all in one day. 
An urchin both vigorous and hale; 
And so without scruple they called him Ralph Jones. 
Now Ralph is renowned for the length of his bones; 
The Magog of Legberthwaite dale. 

Just half a week after, the wind sallied forth. 
And, in anger or merriment, out of the north, 
[ 337 J . 


Coming on with a terrible pother. 

From the peak of the crag blew the giant away. 

And what did these school-boys? — The very next day 

They went and they built up another. 

— Some little I ' ve seen of blind boisterous works 
By Christian disturbers more savage than Turks, 
Spirits busy to do and undo: 

At remembrance whereof my blood sometimes will flag; 
Then, light-hearted Boys, to the top of the crag! 
And I '11 build up a giant with you. 

[ 338 ] 



1800 1800 

It may be worth while to observe that as there are Scotch 
Poems on this subject in simple ballad strain, I thought it 
would be both presumptuous and superfluous to attempt treat- 
ing it in the same way; and, accordingly, I chose a construc- 
tion of stanza quite new in our language; in fact, the same as 
that of Burger's Leonora, except that the first and third lines 
do not, in my stanzas, rhyme. At the outset I threw out a 
classical image to prepare the reader for the style in which I 
meant to treat the story, and so to preclude all comparison. 

Fair Ellen Irwin, when she sate 
Upon the braes of Kirtle, 
Was lovely as a Grecian maid 
Adorned w^ith wreaths of myrtle; 
Young Adam Bruce beside her lay. 
And there did they beguile the day 
With love and gentle speeches, 
Beneath the budding beaches. 

From many knights and many squires 
The Bruce had been selected; 
And Gordon, fairest of them all. 
By Ellen was rejected, 
r 339 1 


Sad tidings to that noble Youth! 
For it may be proclaimed with truth. 
If Bruce hath loved sincerely. 
That Gordon loves as dearly. 

But what are Gordon's form and face. 
His shattered hopes and crosses, 
To them, *mid Kirtle's pleasant braes. 
Reclined on flowers and mosses?, 
Alas that ever he was born ! 
The Gordon, couched behind a thorn, 
Sees them and their caressing; 
Beholds them blest and blessing. 

Proud Gordon, maddened by the thoughts 
That through his brain are travelling, 
Rushed forth, and at the heart of Bruce 
He launched a deadly javelin! 
Fair Ellen saw it as it came, 
And, starting up to meet the same. 
Did with her body cover 
The Youth, her chosen lover. 

And, falling into Bruce's arms. 
Thus died the beauteous Ellen, 
Thus, from the heart of her True-love, 
The mortal spear repelling. 

[ 340 ] 


And Bruce, as soon as he had slain 
The Gordon, sailed away to Spain; 
And fought with rage incessant 
Against the Moorish crescent. 

But many days, and many months. 
And many years ensuing, 
This wretched Knight did vainly seek 
The death that he was wooing. 
So, coming his last help to crave. 
Heart-broken, upon Ellen's grave 
His body he extended, 
And there his sorrow ended. 

Now ye, who willingly have heard 
The tale I have been telling, 
May in Kirkconnel churchyard view 
The grave of lovely Ellen : 
By Ellen's side the Bruce is laid; 
And, for the stone upon his head 
May no rude hand deface it. 
And its forlorn pit mttl 

[341 ] 



1800 1800 

I HATE that Andrew Jones; he'll breed 
His children up to waste and pillage. 
I wish the press-gang or the drum ' 
With its tantara sound would come. 
And sweep him from the village! 

I said not this, because he loves 

Through the long day to swear and tipple; 

But for the poor dear sake of one 

To whom a foul deed he had done, 

A friendless man, a travelling cripple! 

For this poor crawling helpless wretch. 
Some horseman who was passing by, 
A penny on the ground had thrown; 
But the poor cripple was alone 
And could not stoop — no help was nigh. 

Inch-thick the dust lay on the ground 
For it had long been droughty weather; 
[ 342 ] 


So with his staff the cripple wrought 
Among the dust till he had brought 
The half -pennies together. 

It chanced that Andrew passed that way 
Just at the time; and there he found 
The cripple in the mid-day heat 
Standing alone, and at his feet 
He saw the penny on the ground. 

He stopped and took the penny up: 
And when the cripple nearer drew. 
Quoth Andrew, *' Under half-a-crown. 
What a man finds is all his own, 
And so, my Friend, good-day to you." 

And hence I said, that Andrew's boys 
Will all be trained to waste and pillage; 
And wished the press-gang, or the drum 
With its tantara sound, would come 
And sweep him from the village. 

[ 343 



1800 1800 

This is described from the life, as I was in the habit of ob- 
serving when a boy at Hawkshead School. Daniel was more 
than eighty years older than myself when he was daily, thus 
occupied, under my notice. No book could have so early 
taught me to think of the changes to which human life is sub- 
ject; and while looking at him I could not but say to myself 
— we may, one of us, I or the happiest of my playmates, live 
to become still more the object of pity than this old man, this 
half-doating pilferer! 

O NOW that the genius of Bewick were mine, 
And the skill which he learned on the banks of the Tyne. 
Then the Muses might deal with me just as they chose, 
For I 'd take my last leave both of verse and of prose. 

What feats would I work with my magical hand! 
Book-learning and books should be banished the land: 
And, for hunger and thirst and such troublesome calls, 
Every ale-house should then have a feast on its walls. 

The traveller would hang his wet clothes on a chair; 
Let them smoke, let them burn, not a straw would he 




For the Prodigal Son, Joseph's Dream and his sheaves. 
Oh, what would they be to my tale of two Thieves? 

The One, yet unbreeched, is not three birthdays old. 
His Grandsire that age more than thirty times told; 
There are ninety good seasons of fair and foul weather 
Between them, and both go a-pilfering together. 

With chips is the carpenter strewing his floor? 
Is a cart-load of turf at an old woman's door? 
Old Daniel his hand to the treasure will slide! 
And his Grandson 's as busy at work by his side. 

Old Daniel begins ; he stops short — and his eye, 
Through the lost look of dotage, is cunning and sly: 
'T is a look which at this time is hardly his own. 
But tells a plain tale of the days that are flown. 

He once had a heart which was moved by the wires 
Of manifold pleasures and many desires: 
And v/hat if he cherished his purse? 'T was no more 
Than treading a path trod by thousands before. 

'T was a path trod by thousands ; but Daniel is one 
Who went something farther than others have gone, 
And now with old Daniel you see how it fares; 
You see to what end he has brought his grey hairs, 
f 345 1 


The pair sally forth hand in hand: ere the sun 
Has peered o'er the beeches, their work is begun: 
And yet, into whatever sin they may fall. 
This child but half knows it, and that, not at all. 

They hunt through the streets with deliberate tread. 
And each, in his turn, becomes leader or led; 
And, wherever they carry their plots and their wiles, 
Every face in the village is dimpled with smiles. 

Neither checked by the rich nor the needy they roam; 
For the grey-headed Sire has a daughter at home. 
Who will gladly repair all the damage that's done; 
And three, were it asked, would be rendered for one. 

Old Man! whom so oft I with pity have eyed, 
I love thee, and love the sweet Boy at thy side: 
Long yet may'st thou live ! for a teacher we see 
That lifts up the veil of our nature in thee. 

346 ] 


1800 1800 

The principal features are taken from that of my friend 
Robert Jones. 

I MARVEL how Nature could ever find space 

For so many strange contrasts in one human face: 

There's thought and no thought, and there's paleness 

and bloom 
And bustle and sluggishness, pleasure and gloom. 

There's weakness, and strength both redundant and 

Such strength as, if ever affliction and pain 
Could pierce through a temper that 's soft to disease, 
Would be rational peace — a philosopher's ease. 

There's indifference, alike when he fails or succeeds, 
And attention full ten times as much as there needs; 
Pride where there's no envy, there's so much of joy; 
And mildness, and spirit both forward and coy. 

There's freedom, and sometimes a diffident stare 
Of shame scarcely seeming to know that she 's there, 
f 347 1 


There's virtue, the title it surely may claim. 

Yet wants heaven knows what to be worthy the name. 

This picture from nature may seem to depart, 

Yet the Man would at once run away with your heart; 

And I for five centuries right gladly would be 

Such an odd, such a kind happy creature as he. 

[ 348 ] 


for the spot where the hermitage stood on st. 
Herbert's island, derwentwater 

1800 1800 

If thou in the dear love of some one Friend 
Hast been so happy that thou know'st what thoughts 
Will sometimes in the happiness of love 
Make the heart sink, then wilt thou reverence 
This quiet spot; and. Stranger! not unmoved 
Wilt thou behold this shapeless heap of stones. 
The desolate ruins of St. Herbert's Cell. 
Here stood his threshold; here was spread the roof 
That sheltered him, a self-secluded Man, 
After long exercise in social cares 
And offices humane, intent to adore 
The Deity, with undistracted mind. 
And meditate on everlasting things. 
In utter solitude. — But he had left 
A Fellow-labourer, whom the good Man loved 
As his own soul. And, when with eye upraised 
To heaven he knelt before the crucifix. 
While o'er the lake the cataract of Lodore 
Pealed to his orisons, and when he paced 
[ 349 ] 


Along the beach of this small isle and thought 
Of his Companion, he would pray that both 
(Now that their earthly duties were fulfilled) 
Might die in the same moment. Nor in vain 
So prayed he : — as our chronicles report, 
Though here the Hermit numbered his last day 
Far from St. Cuthbert his beloved Friend, 
Those holy Men both died in the same hour. 


1800 1800 

Rude is this Edifice, and Thou hast seen 
Buildings, albeit rude, that have maintained 
Proportions more harmonious, and approached 
To closer fellowship with ideal grace. 
But take it in good part : — alas ! the poor 
Vitruvius of our village had no help 
From the great City; never, upon leaves 
Of red Morocco folio, saw displayed. 
In long succession, pre-existing ghosts 
Of Beauties yet unborn — the rustic Lodge 
Antique, and Cottage with verandah graced, 
Nor lacking, for fit company, alcove. 
Green-house, shell-grot, and moss-lined hermitage, 
f 350 1 


Thou see'st a homely Pile, yet to these walls 

The heifer comes in the snow-storm, and here 

The new-dropped lamb finds shelter from the wind. 

And hither does one Poet sometimes row 

His pinnace, a small vagrant barge, up-piled 

With plenteous store of heath and withered fern, 

(A lading which he with his sickle cuts, 

Among the mountains) and beneath this roof 

He makes his summer couch, and here at noon 

Spreads out his limbs, while, yet unshorn, the Sheep, 

Panting beneath the burthen of their wool. 

Lie round him, even as if they were a part 

Of his own Household: nor, while from his bed 

He looks, through the open door-place, toward the lake 

And to the stirring breezes, does he want 

Creations lovely as the work of sleep — 

Fair sights, and visions of romantic joy! 


1800 1800 

Stranger! this hillock of mis-shapen stones 
Is not a Ruin spared or made by time, 
Nor, as perchance thou rashly deem'st, the Cairn 
Of some d\d British Chief : 't is nothing more 
\ 351 1 


Than the rude embryo of a little Dome 
Or Pleasure-house, once destined to be built 
Among the birch-trees of this rocky isle. 
But, as it chanced, Sir William having learned 
That from the shore a full-grown man might wade. 
And make himself a freeman of this spot 
At any hour he chose, the prudent Knight 
Desisted, and the quarry and the mound 
Are monuments of his unfinished task. 
The block on which these lines are traced, perhaps. 
Was once selected as the corner-stone 
Of that intended Pile, which would have been 
Some quaint odd plaything of elaborate skill, 
So that, I guess, the linnet and the thrush. 
And other little builders who dwell here. 
Had wondered at the work. But blame him not. 
For old Sir William was a gentle Knight, 
Bred in this vale, to which he appertained 
With all his ancestry. Then peace to him, 
And for the outrage which he had devised 
Entire forgiveness ! — But if thou art one 
On fire with thy impatience to become 
An inmate of these mountains, — if, disturbed 
By beautiful conceptions, thou hast hewn 
Out of the quiet rock the elements 
Of thy trim Mansion destined soon to blaze 
[ 352 ] 


In snow-white splendour, — think again ; and, taught 
By old Sir WiUiam and his quarry, leave 
Thy fragments to the bramble and the rose; 
There let the vernal slow- worm sun himself. 
And let the redbreast hop from stone to stone. 


U . S . A 


Los Angeles 

This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 

aarD lo-url 


m JAN zfM 



JAN 1 ^ 1^80 

Form L9-Series|4tjn % 8 198 I 

>■ *} 



SEP 3 19B5 






X^ti 7 

Form L- 

2.TI)! -10. '4-1(2491) 

FEB qiyos 


nil III 

3 1158 00093 8513